What did you learn during the long year of shelter in place?  I’ve been in several conversations about that.  It seems that many of us learned a lot.  One of the things I’ve heard over and over is the deep realization of how important our friends and communities are to us.  Is that true for you?  It certainly is for me. The Importance of Friends and Community for Women Over 55 has been a critical piece to make it through the pandemic.

When I think about what I missed most during 2020, it is unquestionably the quiet, fun, serious, raucous, silly, thoughtful, entertaining, reflective, insightful times with my women friends.  As women we need the friendship and community of other women.  I’ve never heard any woman say that wasn’t true for her. We certainly can have deep and important relationships with men either romantic or platonic, but for many of us those are just not the same as those special friendships we have with women.

How do we make good friends?  

I think back to endless childhood afternoons with Peggy in the backyard, constructing anything from treehouses to rafts for the creek nearby.  Or the long hours in Nancy’s basement making up stories about adventures with princesses and horses.  Or remember the long, whispered conversations with the girls after hours in the dorm room?  Those could go on way into the night, far beyond the time for sleep before the midterm in the morning.

When did those beautiful times end?  When we got our first “real” job?  After we were married and then with kids? When we had a spouse, children, a house, a profession that was so important to us?  And all those things needed our time and attention.  Who had time for long, lazy afternoons fantasizing with girlfriends?

And now many of us find ourselves feeling a bit bereft of good women friends. And those we have, we often find ourselves scheduling a Zoom appointment in order to catch up.  Was our learning during the past year significant enough to remember that our women friends are of prime importance to us, and so we will devote time to them?

The Importance of Friends and Community for Women Over 55

Along with carefully nurturing the friends we have, many of us find it harder and harder to make good friends as we get older.  Even when we’re not in a pandemic, it seems to be harder to find like-minded women whom we want to spend time with. We may have changed and grown and, sad as it can feel, we have outgrown some of our friends from the past.  

It all feels a bit like looking for someone who interests us to date!  Where do we go?  I was always told to join groups that are doing something I’m interested in anyway. Some people were told to go to social groups in their religious or spiritual community.  Here we are!  It’s all like being 16 again!  

And in some ways it probably is, only now we have the Internet so we can look for local Meetups; we can join Facebook groups; we can sign up for classes on anything that interests us.  

Lessons Learned

Most importantly, don’t let the lessons we learned during 2020 be lost.  Remember The Importance of Friends and Community for Women Over 55. Make plans to see them frequently.  Specific plans.  Written in your calendar plans.  And if it’s time to find some new friends, take active steps to do that. One of the things that keeps us healthy and thriving as we get older is having a social circle of friends, family, and communities that are important to us, and that we spend quality time with.  Be sure to make this a priority from now on.

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”Thomas Aquinas

Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the change for how older women are seen and treated in our society.  She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take charge of their future.  Sara is the author of three books, and has over 40 years’ experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was director of training and development for a Fortune 100 company and executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology.  To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!