Freelance friendship comes in all shapes and sizes. Digital, in person, on the project and more. It’s this freelance friendship that sustains us. Yet sometimes, we get a little too stuck in our cliques and forget to look outward.
An old friend was visiting from the States in March. He’d spent a decade in Colorado and was really noticing the difference in people and how they interact.
In Australia, we tend to take our friends with us to events and close ourselves up to the opportunity to be there with other people. We stay in our little groups and that’s where it begins and ends.
It’s true. If you’ve ever eaten alone, you may feel this. Or perhaps you’ve gone to a networking or conferencing event without a posse. Perhaps you’ve travelled alone. Heck, even going to a bar, pub or gig solo feels weird and intimidating.
Why is it so hard to create opportunities for freelance friendship?
Loneliness is one of the single biggest challenges Australia faces. It kills us through suicide, mental health issues and through poor physical health. It’s also terribly isolating and hard to overcome, even without the worst outcomes.
When we invest in having enough friends or not circulating with others, we risk:
· Alienating others in our communities
· Removing the courage from people to move suburb, town or state
· Creating conditions ripe for bullying and exclusion
· Limiting our support networks when we need them most
· Building an echo chamber of thought, opinion and experience
· Missing out on some great people and new opportunities
· Becoming self-involved and cliquey
· Lowering our intersection with people of different culture, sexuality, life experience, race, gender and more
How then can you increase your ability to make friends?
It hasn’t been an easy year for creating new freelance friendship opportunities. Melbourne has faced lockdown for most of 2020. The rest of the country, though enjoying more freedom, certainly hasn’t been operating under business as usual conditions.
However, there are other ways to grow connections if we so choose like:
· Join clubs, sports, social clubs and creative activities and let the shared interest in those activities give you something to bond over
· Be open to that smile from a stranger’s eyes and reciprocate
· Explore new ways to interact online through digital coffee breaks, the Freelance Jungle stress downs, masterminds, Patreon classes and more
· Practice empathy by putting yourself in situations where you are solo
· Join a volunteer organisation. Giving is a great way to feel connected
· Choose healthy interactions with people online over fawning fandom or suspicion and snark
· Take a journal to the pub and draw, write and create – it usually gets people talking!
· Remember to circulate outside your core freelance friendship group. This prevents it from becoming an “all or nothing” situation
· Avoid pitting your connections against others. This year looks like it will be a tough one. We need all the support we can get!
· Let people be their best selves. We’re the expert in our own lives. Recognising that can do a lot to support someone’s confidence and make you an attractive ally to boot
Why not look for the opportunities to enjoy freelance friendship near you?
We are in some strange circumstances these days so we need to get creative about connecting in ways we may not have thought of before.
Let’s create a list of places you feel happy, safe and content that suit the current times and share the knowledge! And here’s hoping we can begin to host more events in 2021.