Hi. I'm Alex
TL;DR I care deeply about friendships + community because I rely on them as my support system. I created mine because it was my only option, but now realize that we all can impact this area of our lives more than we are led to believe.
There are many reasons I care about this.
Where should i start?
As a kid
Like many, my childhood wasn’t the easiest.
I was a kid who felt alone and lacked support.
I decided I didn’t want to feel alone anymore, so I did what I had to do.
I created a family out of friends.
How did I do it?
At the time, I didn’t really know. I just did it out of necessity. Out of survival.
IN MY 20s
We made friends a priority (and by we, I mean myself + M. We met when we were 20).
BUT, it was also encouraged. In your 20s everyone tells you, “Go meet new people!” or “You’re supposed to spend lots of time with your friends at your age.”
We had monthly “family dinners.”
Made new friends.
Added to friend groups.
We adapted and changed as friends made big life moves.
Made work friends. Celebrated big for everything from significant life milestones to good work reviews.
Turned work friends into close friends.
Traveled all over – sometimes with one friend, sometimes with another couple, sometimes in a group of 20+ friends.
We befriended friends of friends.
We prioritized our friendships with our time, our money and our energy.
IN MY 30s
When my late 20s- early 30s hit, the small, seemingly harmless side comments started to appear in casual conversations. Regularly. Mainly from older generations.
“Friends aren’t as important when you are older.”
“It’s time to focus on your partner and your family.”
“No one can juggle a career, family, and friendships at the same time.”
I will 100% admit I panicked.
If these relationships became less of a priority, that meant I’d lose my entire support system.
I held on even tighter (sometimes to the detriment of the relationship).
Then people our own age started chiming in with lots of doubt the big friend gatherings, the trips, and the casual hangouts were real.
“Wait. I thought you were joking when you said you went to Mardi Gras with 20 friends.”
“This group is intimidating. I could never befriend everyone.”
“No one has this many friends at our age.”
But here I was — with various groups of friends, lengths of friendships, types of friends, doing all sorts of things with friends.
The moment I realized what I had
Therapist: “You have been trying to make your family a 10/10. Have you considered that your family’s 10 might be a 4?”
I wish I had a photo of the look on my face.
She continued, “Where can you find support outside your family?”
I knew immediately.
I already had it.
I had my friends.
But in a world where I am being told repeatedly:
“Friendships won’t last.”
“What I have isn’t normal.”
“This shouldn’t be a priority.”
How do I keep these relationships alive? How do I maintain the support system I need.
S***, the support system I deserve because everyone deserves to feel supported.
There’s a lot of talk out there about boundaries, but once we have boundaries, what if we find that we need to rebuild in certain areas?
That’s what I did — I built. However, I did it out of necessity.
I didn’t know what I was doing at the time.
So, now here I am wondering:
How did I do it?
How did these relationships work?
What did I do that makes these relationships fit amidst all my other life goals?
What makes certain relationships fade?
What makes groups of friends work?
I don’t have all the answers, but I am here for the conversations.
and then I realized I could do it again + you can too.
One day I was sipping some tea + staring aimlessly into space with wandering thoughts.
“If I suddenly lost all my friends. If I had no one….. I could rebuild.”
And let me tell you — my friends are my family, so I am talking about rebuilding a deep support system.
Your friendships + communities are living, breathing, changing relationships so nothing is perfect — but I do firmly believe you can start to see what makes them last, how to anticipate and act for change and how to build from scratch.
Well, I have planned weddings + events for over a decade.
Let me set the scene —
There is often a moment when someone, maybe the officiant, asks the couple to turn and face their guests.
They slow down for dramatic effect and say, “Take a moment. Look at all these people. Drink this moment in, because this is likely the only time you’ll have all of your people in one room.”
The couple’s wedding day would continue — a whirlwind of photos, cocktail hour, getting everyone seated for dinner.
The reception would be well underway, and it was time for my favorite part of the day — the toasts.
I’d be leaning up against the wall off to the side of the reception room, watching the quiet space in awe.
There were 20, 50, 100, 250, 400 people — all of whom were connected to the couple.
And I’d marvel, “Who are all these people? How do they connect?”
The night would continue with mingling and drinks until the last song finished and the couple made a grand exit.
We’d all go to bed happy and tired.
Then the couple wakes up the next day and… just goes back to everyday life.
Last night they felt all the love of all their people, and today it is just back to normal life.
This leads me to wonder, does it have to be a one-time feeling?
How do we replicate that feeling of support in smaller doses in our everyday lives?
NOPE! My art skills are that of a 1st grader. All you’d get from me are stick figures.
One day I called up my friend Sheena and said “Know of anyone who draws in a style similar to yours?” She let me in on a little secret — SHE WAS OFFERING ILLUSTRATIONS!
And I asked her on the spot — “Want to work together?!”
She does personal portrait commissions, branding projects, social media management.
Check out @SheenaKalsoCreates!
P.S. She also owns a thrift shop (@unclutteredcurio).