Dear Mary Cora,
I think that the people in our Corps are all really cool. There are a lot of different personalities and backgrounds and everyone seems great. The problem is that when we’re all together at trainings, it feels like everyone is just spending time with their friends, me included. How can I get to know my other AmeriFriends better?
Looking to Expand my AmeriCircle
I think it’s lovely that you want to grow your relationships with your fellow members. There are so many wonderful things to be learned from expanding out beyond what is currently comfortable for us. This year, as with most, we have members that carry layers to them that would be hard to discover if you weren’t actually looking. And they’re willing to share. And they want to know you, too!
We spend so much time focused on our missions at our sites that sometimes we don’t have the time or the energy (SO old…) to get to know new people. We’re a busy bunch of bees, and I’ll be the first to admit that, sometimes, I’d rather go home and read than hang out with ANYONE. Fight past that and you’ll likely be rewarded. Can I ask you something, AmeriCircle? How often do you see other members outside of the required training days? Our members are so deeply involved in service, but we’re all more than who we are at a training. You shouldn’t be surprised by that, but you’ll probably be pleased to learn more.
Despite how quickly we become “friends” on Facebook, a real friendship typically takes a lot more than hitting the accept button. Part of building a relationship is getting to know another person and putting in the time. But then it can happen in an instant: one conversation or a shared giggle can change the course of a relationship and turn it from ‘friendly’ to ‘friendship’. But you have to be willing to cultivate that.
There are lots of ways to get to know other AmeriBros and AmeriBabes better. Here are a few that DON’T involve icebreakers:
- Ask a fellow Corps member to dinner. Simple, eh? It could be out at a favorite spot, at a new place that neither of you have been to, or even a home cooked meal. Try cooking together! Breaking bread with others has historically been a sign of comfort and welcoming (unless you’re a Games of Thrones fan…yeesh). Ask questions. Tell stories. Let a friendship bloom.
- Sit somewhere different during a training. Do you usually sit with the same people at every training? I know that I can tend towards that. When you haven’t seen a friend in a while, you will naturally gravitate to them in order to resolidify your bonds. But if your goal is to make new chums, make sure that your actions reflect that. What’s the silly saying? Old friends are gold and new ones are silver? Both are important.
- Participate. This goes for in trainings and at service projects and during non-hours worthy events. One of my closest friends impressed me so much with her wisdom during trainings that I just knew I had to be friends with her. And we are. Real, honest-to-goodness friends; the type of friends that laugh AND cry with each other. And listen, I know that service projects can sometimes feel like a chore, but how much better is it if you just think of it as excellent hangsy-time with your AmeriBuds? Amiright? And if there’s a happy hour or a potluck or a banjo night, seriously consider going. Maybe you don’t drink, or you’re a terrible cook, or you absolutely hate banjo music; but it’s not about the event, it’s about the company.
So basically, if you want to expand your circle, you have to expand your actions. Be willing to do something that might make you feel like you’re on a first date. Be willing to take that nerve-wracking step to put yourself into a new group. Be willing to put off doing laundry in order to spend a little extra time with the people that you want to be friends with. It sounds like you’re willing, AmeriCircle. Now the only thing left is getting it done.
Edited by: Dawn Bush