Making friends can be scary, especially as an adult.
This is why I love Connection Feast, a social wellness company that hosts events to help create community and facilitate meet-ups between people over a shared meal. Connection Feast was founded by today’s guest, Alex Friedman, who envisioned the company after realizing that meetups weren’t working – the connections she made at them weren’t deep enough. Finally, she decided to take control of her situation.
I attended a Connection Feast event themed on “emotional intelligence.” And I came home like, whoa. I have 10 new things to consider about myself. Whether you meet someone or not, you’re going to come home with something. These are deep events.
One reason I love talking about friendship so much is because every time I think I know a good amount about friendship, I am utterly humbled by these relationships. There’s always new things to learn from and be surprised by. You’re going to LOVE this marathon of a conversation between Alex and I (and stay tuned for part 2!)
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- How sometimes structure can help adults be more playful, and thus, make deeper connections with new acquaintances
- The emotional intimacy and vulnerability it takes to make friends as adults
- How sometimes to facilitate friendships you need to let go of control and allow people to ride their own waves along whatever speed their current is
- The danger of expecting reciprocity, and how that can set us up to be disappointed, especially if our friends are in different places in their lives
- The beauty of surrounding ourselves with varieties of different people
- When people come into our lives for short periods of time, that doesn’t make it insignificant – sometimes short friendships can offer valuable gifts
- The evolution of “big friendships” – they evolve over time, day-by-day, over sometimes mundane things
- Why so much of friendship and community is putting ourselves in the places where we can be around the right people
What, for you, is the hardest part about making friends as an adult?
Notable Quotes from Alex
“I look at Connection Feast as social art. It’s an experiential opportunity for people to come in and experience connection with themselves and other people in a playful and unique, artistic way. That means, as an artist myself, it gives me a lot of free range here to really create opportunities where people can connect in a way that maybe they’ve never done before. And it feels maybe like that they’ll come in one way and they leave another.”
“I have made so many beautiful friendships with people who are a variety of ages after launching Connection Feast. That has been a really beautiful gift. It might seem like a simple thing, but the way that it impacts me in having people who are a variety of ages: it helps me not only feel like I can talk about different parts of my life with these people and get their perspectives, but also see what’s going on for them. It can’t necessarily be tit for tat, because we’re in totally different areas of our lives. The expectations almost have to drop.”
Resources & Links
Follow Alex on Instagram. Be sure to check out her events if you’re local to Seattle, and tune in next time to hear the rest of our marathon of a conversation about friendship!
Also, I strongly recommend the book we talked about, Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Want to take this conversation a step further? Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out!
Leave Alex a voicemail!
Related to The Art of Making Friends
@itsalexalexander @itsalexalexander Check out the “Types of Friends” video linked here. #typesoffriends #typesoffriendship ♬ original sound – Layde_Shy
Until next time…
Take the conversation beyond the new podcast on friendship! Follow Alex on Instagram (@itsalexalexander) or Tiktok (@itsalexalexander), or send her a voice message directly with all your friendship thoughts, problems, and triumphs by heading to AlexAlex.chat and hitting record.
Podcast Intro 00:00
Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!
Podcast Intro 00:18
Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 00:50
Today’s episode is with my new friend, Alexandra Friedman, the Founder of Connection Feast. Now, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen me post about Connection Feast today. It’s a series of events in the Seattle area. They also have virtual events.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 01:11
Alex and I connected a little less than a year ago, because we realized we both live in Seattle. We have built this great friendship ever since. Now, I’m sure I will ask Alex to be back on the podcast a few times, and, in fact, there is a part two to this episode that will air in a few weeks.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 01:32
But this is a fun one because Alex also talks about community and friendship on the internet. Her and I have talked extensively. So there’s not a lot of need for me to cut in today. This conversation just unfolds beautifully, and, you know, so often I go into these episodes, and I have a rough idea of what this episode, like what I want to cover. But I try not to control it too much because letting it just take its natural path is where the best things come out.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 02:09
So without further ado, let’s dive into today’s episode.
Alex Alexander 02:13
I was thinking today — after we just did this dance party in my living room where we looked… well, like our truest selves — that I don’t even know if it’s been a year. I think like less than a year ago we didn’t know each other.
Alexandra Friedman 02:29
Yeah. That’s crazy. We just had an intense sweaty dance party in your kitchen.
Alex Alexander 02:35
I know! We moved my furniture around so you have more space to record.
Alexandra Friedman 02:41
Yeah — and then we actually moved it around so we could have an intense dance party. It was my whole plan all along.
Alex Alexander 02:47
Is that I like to start every podcast with a dance party?
Alexandra Friedman 02:51
Well, actually, I like to start a dance party before a meeting, of any sort, but especially with a friend if I know it’s kind of like, like I feel comfortable enough to be able to shake it out with them versus by myself.
Alex Alexander 03:07
I mean, it’s sets the energy. It also gets you on the same energy.
Alexandra Friedman 03:11
Oh, that’s true.
Alex Alexander 03:12
Not that you have to be on the same energy. But I definitely brought me up, that’s for sure.
Alexandra Friedman 03:19
It was Whitney Whitney Houston brought us up.
Alex Alexander 03:21
That was a great choice by Alexa.
Alex Alexander 03:23
So I want to talk about how we met, and I guess the backstory to that is that you actually create content, events, programming around community and friendship. That you run a program. Do you want to tell us a little bit about Connection Feast?
Alexandra Friedman 03:45
Absolutely. Okay, so let me just give you a little background for those beautiful fans of yours. Go back to pre-pandemic times. We’re talking… it’s about May of 2018 and I’m sitting in this high rise apartment in downtown Seattle overlooking the lake. It’s raining. It’s gray.
Alexandra Friedman 04:12
I grew up in the city, but I just moved back and I was feeling super lonely.
Alexandra Friedman 04:18
I had had a breakup. You know, I had felt really kind of alone. I didn’t really feel like I wanted to be in the same life I had when I left [Seattle] when I was 18.
Alex Alexander 04:30
Alexandra Friedman 04:30
18 years prior. I felt really alone. So, I tried all these meetups. I tried like, you know, meeting people at work. I tried kind of just reaching out to people and doing connection, but I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled in the connections that I was creating. They weren’t deep enough. I felt really isolated both within myself but also within this city that I was redefining myself in. I kind of was like allowing myself to sit in my own… sad little rainy story, and I was kind of sick of sitting in that.
Alexandra Friedman 05:06
So I said, you know, I’m going to have some dinner parties and I’m going to have a theme around them. This is going to push me to invite people to an event, so that I can, kind of, bring people into my life and create some intentionality and deep conversation. And… it will open the door for me to take potential friendships to a different level by giving them something that they can come to.
Alex Alexander 05:31
Alexandra Friedman 05:31
So I started launching these dinner parties, and giving a theme to them. I would meet people in super random places. I’m not kidding — that uncomfortable lady that you’re stuck in the elevator with. That was me. The woman at the gym. The person at crosswalks. I was literally reaching out to anybody that I just felt this intuitive little hit, and I would talk to them and if I felt comfortable, I’d ask them if they wanted to come to my dinner party, Connection Feast.
Alex Alexander 06:02
Alexandra Friedman 06:03
They said yes. Sometimes they said no. Sometimes they said yes. And they didn’t respond to my texts. But I didn’t care. It pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone to launch these dinner parties once a month, all around the theme.
Alexandra Friedman 06:19
I hosted them on the top part of my apartment complex every month. I did it for over a year. And I would have different people come to every feast. The opportunity that that opened up for me was an immense, beautiful experience, because the first feast, the first dinner party, I had a theme. It was fear.
Alex Alexander 06:45
The first one?!
Alexandra Friedman 06:46
The first one.
Alex Alexander 06:48
Alexandra Friedman 06:48
I was so scared, Alex, that I didn’t even facilitate. I just said, here’s the theme and then I didn’t do anything else. It started as a dinner party, as a way for me, because of my own deep need of really wanting more connection in Seattle.
Alexandra Friedman 07:04
I want to take you back there with me because I want people to see that, first of all, Connection Feast is a really beautiful and large community now of people who like to have deep, meaningful connection. But it came from a place of me wanting to create that for myself. It came from a place of me experiencing that need, myself, at 36 years old. It came from a place of me not only really feeling like this was something I needed, but I could tell that other people needed it, too. Because people kept coming back. People wanted more. People wanted to continue connecting.
Alexandra Friedman 07:42
So in this beautiful year of 2020, February 2020, we launched our first ticketed event — Connection Feast, and we’ve been hosting online and in person events and experiences ever since.
Alexandra Friedman 07:58
What connection feast is in summary, now. It’s not just dinner parties. They are opportunities or experiences for people to connect with like-minded people who enjoy deeper, more meaningful conversations and interactions. It allows people to connect deeply with themselves, and then also with other people, and then potentially create a deep connection – so much – that they’re able to take those friendships outside of a Feast. That’s what we’ve created an opportunity for people to connect deeper and more intentionally,
Alex Alexander 08:29
I have so many thoughts about what you do, and Connection Feast.
Alex Alexander 08:35
Number one, so many people want to “join” or “find” friends and community, but you can “build” or “create” and that is exactly what you decided to do.
Alex Alexander 08:50
You decided to take the loneliness you were feeling into your own hands. Put yourself out there. Take risks. I mean, you just said the first one was themed after fear and you were so scared that was it. Just like.. “The theme is fear. We’re here together. The end.”
Alex Alexander 09:08
Alex Alexander 09:25
I also think a lot about, you know, wanting to make friends is scary, as we’ve already covered. Putting yourself out there. If you go to an event, and your only goal, the only reason you were there was to ‘meet a friend’ and you didn’t do that — You feel like you failed.
Alex Alexander 09:45
But if you go to an event where there’s ‘something else that you would come home with.’ If you went to an Adult Soccer League, because you love soccer, even if you didn’t meet anybody knew you’d come home (with something that felt worth your time and energy). When I came home from your event, Connection Feast, what I had to say was, “No matter whether you meet somebody or not, you’re going home with something.”
Alex Alexander 10:12
These are deep events, the one I went to was on Emotional Intelligence. I came home thinking like “WHOA. I have 10 new things to consider about myself.” Therefore, whether or not, like people are meeting people, people are making connections, but I think it’s less scary to put yourself out there when there’s other positive things happening at the same time. Your entire enjoyment of the event isn’t predicated on whether or not you actually made a connection or not.
Alexandra Friedman 10:45
Yeah, and I think that even though we started as a dinner party and this, like, potluck, I think we have learned so much by putting on close to 200 events, now. It’s really about coming in with intentionality, knowing that you want to connect deeper first with yourselves. And then with other people, because it was funny that the first Feast, I was too scared to have any programming. The topic, like I said, was fear. I was too scared to ask people for help. I was too scared to make it seem too rigid. The more I did these events, the more I realized, people actually want to learn. They want to participate. They want to feel guided. They want to feel like they can come away feeling very fulfilled, and that it actually flowed really nicely. In order to do that, that actually takes planning on our part, so that someone can come in and feel like, “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to walk away with after a Feast, but I do know that I walk away, feeling a deeper, more introspective opportunity with myself in the company of other people.” That by proxy does create a deeper potential relationship. Period. Relationship with first yourself, then with the people you connected with. Then where are you going to take that out into the world into life with other friendships or relationships.
Alex Alexander 12:12
It’s so hard for adults to play. And play, I think, is how we make a lot of friends, especially as kids like more younger. I mean, when I think of Connection Feast — you’re kind of creating a structured play. In the sense of people GO, and this is important personal development work, but because you’re doing it in a room with other people. Because it has fun names, like your courses. It feels just mildly silly enough to feel like you’re doing something outside your comfort zone with the people around you, and opens you up to actually getting to know everybody in the room.
Alexandra Friedman 12:59
I love that you said that. I think people who know me know that I’m a very playful person. Naturally. That is who I am. And yes, I love deep conversation. But the playfulness part is such a big part of who I am. The interesting thing is, with that concept of play, allows us to shoo away the perfectionism that easily overtakes our minds and easily overtakes mine; not only with the planning of an event, but with new friendships, with delving into anything that I feel scared about I want it to potentially be perfect.
Alexandra Friedman 13:35
That’s always the initial reaction ‘to be able to control it,’ because I think I’ll get that through perfectionism. But the playfulness part allows me to shake that out, literally shake it out. The cool part about having a playfulness, not only to the naming, like you said things are named ‘[dinner] courses’, we have ‘connectivities.’ Then just the actual activities themselves.
Alexandra Friedman 13:57
We can look at it like a classic learning experience with a twist of fun, because it doesn’t feel like you’re actually learning in the sense of ‘old school learning.’ You’re learning in a playful way with other people so that you’re actually learning through your body and through other people’s experiences, and through stories, and through just fun games. We’re saying, let’s just take the ‘W word’ out which in Connection Feast is often a word we don’t love, which is ‘Work.’ Which isn’t meaning, we don’t talk about it [work]. Just means the concept of work, the go-to question of work, and feeling like something is work — Let’s have ‘play,’ and let’s make ‘play’ an opportunity for us to really engage our senses which we all have. Our culture and our demands on life easily shake that out of us, and it’s actually a really beautiful way to expand and connect deeper.
Alex Alexander 14:48
I think so much about how, as adults, I feel like such a marker of friendship is emotional intimacy, vulnerability, what we share. We share like our deepest parts of ourselves. If you step back, the way we get to that point is just by being together. By doing life together – shared interests, activities — and then over time you open up and start sharing the deep stuff.
Alex Alexander 15:21
In Connection Feast, people are coming sharing the deep stuff, but because you’ve added this element of playfulness to it, you know, then it feels like that shared experience. “This is kind of silly that we’re sitting here talking. Haha. I feel uncomfortable.” They remember that a little bit more, than that they shared their deepest truths. I mean, not that everybody’s always sharing their deepest truths. but if you’re in a meeting about fear people might be sharing stuff that they would normally feel is ‘too much’ to share right away. I think it’s because you’ve created this experience that they can, hook it on to.
Alexandra Friedman 16:05
I think if we also take a step here, and look at these events and experiences, as actually, I don’t call them that myself, when I’m thinking about this.
Alexandra Friedman 16:15
This is social art.
Alex Alexander 16:17
Alexandra Friedman 16:18
I look at Connection Feast as social art. It’s an experiential opportunity for people to come in and experience connection with themselves and other people in a playful and unique, artistic way.
Alexandra Friedman 16:34
That means, as an artist myself, it gives me a lot of free range here to really create opportunities where people can connect in a way that maybe they’ve never done before. It feels maybe that they’ll come in and one way and they leave another. That can be literally come in one door and leave another and not even realize it, but the truth is when you come to Connection Feast, you’re guiding through. It’s almost like you’re on this like wave going through and it’s playful, and you’re being carried, and there’s the fun and elements about it, and then you leave in a different zone. In order to do that, the art has to be a creation together. It’s a co creation. So the content that we provide for people to connect, can only do so much.
Alexandra Friedman 17:21
The art of it really is the dynamics of the people that come. “The seriousness” of the topics, really, to most people don’t matter. It’s really that they come because they feel like they’re going to be like riding this wave of kind of a unique fun experience. They know that they’ll leave feeling like “WOW. That was really kind of fun way to connect. I didn’t even know that was possible.”
Alexandra Friedman 17:44
So, if we looked at connecting as an art. That art also doesn’t have too many rules. I mean, There’s creativity within boundaries. We give you the boundaries, and you can play within those boundaries. That is definitely, I think, not only as a creative and artists myself, but somebody who manages ADHD — boundaries, for me are key, and the more boundaries I create in a fun way, then the easier it is for me to feel like I can fly between those boundaries and actually, really be myself and allow myself to really feel seen. Then allow myself to feel protected at the same time.
Podcast Intro 18:27
So do you think you apply these social art principles, then, in your own friendships outside of Connection Feast? Because doing this work, does it infiltrate? I would assume, your everyday friendships outside of your work? Socializing?
Alexandra Friedman 18:49
Absolutely. There’s pros and pros, to doing this really deep reflection, not only at Connection Feast, like being a participant myself, as I create the content and experience. But watching other people experience it — and that is the concept, that it’s gives me a really big pause on who the people are in my life and how I’m interacting with them.
Alexandra Friedman 19:15
It causes me to pause, “Am I walking the talk?” Because while I’m doing this as a mission, like a deep calling for other people to create deep connection, if there wasn’t a deep need within myself, something like this would never succeed, or flow the way it is. It has impacted my life dramatically, in the sense that I really do take my friendships and my connections, not only seriously, but I’d say now that’s replaced with intentionally.
Alexandra Friedman 19:47
I think, also, it has allowed me to realize that sometimes – and I think I’ve always known this but even more so than any time – allowing friendships to flow like the water at a Connection Feast for me to be able to interact with friends during certain periods of my life. Sometimes that means for one wave. Sometimes that’s multiple waves. I think that’s what Connection Feast has really opened for me, especially with the themes, and also just the the fluidity.
Alexandra Friedman 20:14
That there’ll be people coming in and out of my life at all times, and this is not a personal thing.
Alexandra Friedman 20:20
This is actually a really beautiful art within itself. That people come in. They come and fill this ocean with me, and sometimes they’re there riding the waves. Other times, they’re on a totally different current, or I’m on a totally different current. We’re not necessarily going down the same path. It’s allowed me, I guess, to give myself grace, and to really honor the art of allowing other people to create at their own pace, as well, their life. To not force things. To really, at my best, be the best person that I can be. Ride my waves to the best of my ability. Create space within my life that welcomes in the people that I need in my life, and for me to create that space. Then to allow other people to go down their journeys without forcing it. That the amount of just — honor — that I have for other people, their timing, and what’s going on in their life at the same time as mine. I think that’s where Connection Feast has really shown me is true. I don’t hold on as tightly to things that I thought I needed within friendships. I allow it, to kind of, evolve and unfold. We’re riding these waves together.
Alexandra Friedman 21:30
This is a metaphor… I just came up with, but it’s really working. In the sense that, it’s just allowed me to be softer in the amount of just “requirements” I used to put on myself and my friendships. It allows me to call people in and call myself in for different opportunities and needs with different people. You know, like you and I met not even a year ago,
Alex Alexander 21:53
I know! Now here we are podcasting, dancing. I mean, you’re speaking my language.
Alex Alexander 22:00
I know you’ve… we’ve discussed that you listen to the first couple episodes, but I said in my first episode, that one of my beliefs is that people need to “do less, ask less, expect less.” Somehow we’ve been led to believe that a few people should be our everything. Instead of seeing ‘all the people’ as providing just a few things [each] that they’re able to provide right now and that they enjoy providing. I mean, that’s what it sounds like you’re saying,” Let it loosen. Go out in the world and meet the people that feel right in the moment.”
Alexandra Friedman 22:40
Alex Alexander 22:40
You never know who’s gonna walk in.
Alexandra Friedman 22:42
It’s really fascinating, obviously, you and I work with and talk with so many people about their concepts of friendship, and the desires they have for deep connection in their life.
Alexandra Friedman 22:51
You’ve obviously outlined so many different types of friendships, and frameworks for friendships — all of which, I totally aligned with — and I think one of the painful things I see people experience – a lot of Feasters, not all of them, but a lot of them – is really high expectations of other people and the friendships they have in their lives.
Alexandra Friedman 23:12
Really high expectations of like, reciprocity, in friendship. Like a tit for tat. It’s like they’re almost keeping record. I so relate to that. I so understand that. Then the ironic part about that is that the more we think about it [our needs not being met], the more it will happen.
Alexandra Friedman 23:31
You know, the more it will just become the truth. I think the reality is, these high expectations, we’re told over, over and over again about having expectations with all things in life is really a recipe for potential disaster.
Alexandra Friedman 23:48
That’s different than values. Having values that are important and living your life true to those values -I just want to call that out. But, having expectations of how I think a friend should respond or behave, really will set me up to be disappointed AND the focus is wrong, in my opinion.
Alexandra Friedman 24:07
Rather than, you know, the focus on how I can continue to work on myself and offer being a reflection of what I want to see in the world within my friendships.
Alexandra Friedman 24:17
I recommend, like you do Alex, that what a beautiful thing it is to have so many different opportunities for connection and people in our lives to support us through riding the waves.
Alexandra Friedman 24:29
That it’s not, you know, there’s so many different types of people in my life. You asked me kind of about this — I have so many variety of friends.
Alexandra Friedman 24:38
Just for transparency – I’m 40 years old. I know I look super young for those of you who might look at me online. But Hey, listen. I have made so many beautiful friendships of a variety of ages. After launching Connection Feast, that has been a really beautiful gift. That might seem like a simple thing, but the way that it impacts me in having people and if variety of ages helps me feel, not only, like I can talk about different parts of my life with these people and get their perspective, but also see what’s going on for them.
Alexandra Friedman 25:11
It can’t necessarily be tit for tat, because we’re in totally different areas of our life, the expectations almost ‘have to drop.’ In the sense that if I have a friend who’s in their 60s and has three children. You know, maybe two are in college and one might might be living at home for whatever needs. This is something I cannot relate to. If I have high expectations of this friendship, that I might have with somebody else who’s dating, living alone, and single, I will definitely disappoint myself. It helps me have a reality check, because they put up boundaries. I can understand their values. But I also get insight into their life, examples of ways of living, that I didn’t necessarily have visibility into before. I know that then I can reach out to those people for very specific things.
Alex Alexander 26:00
The episode that’s going to air before this, actually, a friend said something to me. I’ve thought about around this topic. She said something. She said, “When we’re younger, we’re so used to all the mundane things of life being the same.”
Alex Alexander 26:18
So you go to college and all of your mundane is the same with somebody else, for the most part. You go to class. You have to deal with your laundry. And the older we get — when you start making friends and different life situation — their mundane is different.
Alex Alexander 26:34
So, somebody has kids, somebody that is older and an empty nester, somebody that’s, I mean, much older. Somebody living in a retirement home. Somebody who’s singl. Married. Everybody’s mundane is different. There’s so much beauty in trying to see that and experiencing what somebody else is experiencing and understanding what somebody else’s life looks like. Because maybe it is what you want, but maybe it’s [being around them inorder to] realizing that’s not what you want. Is this information?
Alex Alexander 27:09
I guess is what I’m trying to say – You’re surrounding yourself with a variety of people living different ways and all you’re saying is, “This is what you’re [the other person] choosing to do. Do I want that? I don’t know. Maybe not. But I’m happy for you. And we can be friends and enjoy the parts that overlap.”
Alexandra Friedman 27:30
Yeah – and, sometimes, a friendship lasts a month. Sometimes it lasts years. I think that’s the interesting part… and listen, I’m going to be honest here, if I have a relationship that doesn’t work out. I’m talking about a romantic relationship. One of the first things, let’s say it’s this three to six month thing, one of the first things people will say when trying to console me, in my experience in the past is, “Doesn’t matter the length, it’s still really valuable.” Maybe not in that voice.
Alexandra Friedman 27:58
It’s still really valuable. It’s still added so much, you know, because maybe they’re thinking I have shame around that it [the relationship] wasn’t longer. Or that there’s our society or culture has this association that maybe something’s wrong with the other person, or each person, if they can’t just push it out to make it last longer. I bring up that example, because when your heart is broken, it’s frustrating to hear… but they’re correct.
Alexandra Friedman 28:23
I wouldn’t, necessarily, say that, personally, to somebody unless they are asking, but I do think that this concept is that people are sometimes in our lives for a very short time, and it’s sometimes a really beautiful gift for exactly what you said, Alex. Which is, perhaps, they’re living their life in a way that you’ve never seen before. Then it can give you a way to be like, “Wow, I never knew a life like that was possible or having mundane activities like that was possible. That’s something I want to create or not create.”
Alexandra Friedman 28:52
The truth is that people come in our lives. It could be for this little bleep moments of time. Sometimes, it offers us a gift. Sometimes, it offers more the other person a gift. That’s what it is. And I think that it’s hard to hear that, because we want… and there are those historical friends, I think you name them.. There are those historical friends that for a long time, I barely see those people, by the way.
Alex Alexander 29:16
Alexandra Friedman 29:16
I barely talked to them, but they’re very close to me. I see Alex [Alexander] much more, and Alex has not been in my life for less than a year now. Alex and I aren’t sitting here looking at a calendar wondering how long our friendship is going to last. We know that right now we’re super supportive of each other. That we’re offering a really beautiful glimpses into different ways of creating community and culture and conversation around friendship. I love that, because we do live much different lives.
Alexandra Friedman 29:46
I think Connection Feast has helped me see the value of having people in my lives for these little blips of time to hel, kind of, push me farther along in my little ocean. Sometimes it’s to help me catch a wave. Sometimes, so I can push them along the way, and then it’s over. Then there’s sometimes a little sadness with that sometimes if I feel like, “Did I do something wrong? Was it me?”
Alex Alexander 30:08
Alexandra Friedman 30:09
But I just have to look at it like, “That was a beautiful moment in time that we were able to connect.” It’s been the truth for me.
Alex Alexander 30:16
And… just because that beautiful moment happened. Sometimes that is it. It is over. And other times, you might reconnect with that person down the line for one reason or another. In that way, or a different way. We all just never know. We want to hold on so tightly and predict and no, but people just come in and out. We got to, let what is it? Let the wave go. Is that what we were talking about earlier. We gotta follow the wave.
Alexandra Friedman 30:49
Yeah, I don’t even surf or boogie board, yet, but I feel like I can get into it now.
Alexandra Friedman 30:53
I feel like a lot of this stuff, Alex, is very easy to talk about, sometimes. Then really, really hard on the other side. I’m just calling that out, because I know a lot of people who are really lonely and isolated. They are, maybe, whether they’re coming to Connection Feast, they’re listening to your podcast, or listening to other content. They’re, I don’t love the word, “trying”. So that’s why I said, quote/unquote.
Alexandra Friedman 31:17
They’re putting themselves out there, but they still feel this loneliness and isolation and so something like this, a conversation, could almost be like an eye roll for them. “Sure, that’s the case, but all I want is one or two really consistent friends.” The truth of that — is your first, I think, please jump in here, I think the beauty of, Connection Feast, but also, so much of the content you put out and so much of the content of friendship, — it helps us recognize how we can be good friends to other people. What friendship means. But pausing and be like, “How good of a friend am I being to myself?”
Alex Alexander 31:51
Alexandra Friedman 31:52
And if I were to have two seats next to me, and I was listening to myself talk about some of these challenges. There’s an older version of myself talking to me in 10-15 years trying to console me on something I should have/could have considered. How good of a friend would that older version of myself be to my current self and guide me in regarding to expectations of friendships? How good of a friend of my being to myself, first? That’s a really hard one, because I see so many people so hard on themselves, and it breaks my heart.
Alex Alexander 32:23
Yeah. I think a lot of people… from what I have seen… You know, I was at a pretty low low. My low was LOW. But I was really young, so I wasn’t having these kinds of conversations with myself. I just did it and started finding the smallest slivers that would add up to get me towards what I need.
Alex Alexander 32:50
I think what I see when I talk to people, is they have those high expectations. They want friends to show up for them in these ‘big all encompassing ways.’ So, when they leave an interaction, they’re so focused on ‘what didn’t happen,’ that would have gotten them to that expectation, instead of being focused on ‘what did happen.’ Getting to those ‘bigger all encompassing relationships’ — it requires you to build. You have to add up interaction over interaction. You need evidence, is what I call it. You’re not going to get the evidence in one go-around.
Alexandra Friedman 33:36
Yeah. It’s so interesting, because I’ve seen this with people who do come to Feasts, relatively consistently. Or just people who aren’t making an active investment in how they’re spending their time.
Alexandra Friedman 33:51
I saw something, of course — some little viral Instagram thing — and it’s very simple. We all know this, but it’s like, basically, it was like someone saying, “I want change my life” and then there was this thing handed to them, “Which is here. Change happening from small habits every day.” And the person’s like, “No, I don’t want that I want a dramatic turnaround overnight.” And don’t we all?!
Alex Alexander 34:13
Ya! Doesn’t know we all?!
Alexandra Friedman 34:15
It doesn’t. The movies want to show this friendship that’s blossoming from two people, that should not necessarily be friends. Then somehow the friendship happens over time because of some shared experience, and it all happens in two hours. We think to ourselves, “Why can’t I just have that with somebody at work or somebody I bumped into?”… Because we all know it’s the movies. The truth of the matter is it is ‘literally day-by-day.’ Little habits. Consistency. These things that we do in our lives to make us better and the learning and sharing that and building on that, like you’re saying. It’s really where I’ve seen people thrive in friendship the most.
Alex Alexander 34:53
And I do think that people… sometimes, can go, really deep in one area. A counseling group is a great example of this. You share in a group program, or in a mentorship program, or in a mastermind. You share really deep, vulnerable things.
Alex Alexander 35:14
But you’re only doing it in one area of your life. People then get caught up, I think, in that, “We’re so close, I’m telling them my hardest moments.” It’s like, but only in one area. The reason your longest, oldest, closest friends — you can go to them for close to anything, is because over time, you have gone deep in 50 areas.
Alex Alexander 35:43
It’s the same repetition. I think even if you don’t go the deepest, even if you just meet a friend – a casual friend – at work. Whatever. If you work with that same person for 10 years, over time, you’re probably gonna start telling each other deeper things. Whether you go deep first, or you go wide first. It’s the same thing. It all just slowly builds over time. It can’t happen overnight.
Alex Alexander 36:10
Have you read? You probably have because I know you’re a self improvement junkie, like I am. But maybe you haven’t — Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Alexandra Friedman 36:18
Alex Alexander 36:19
Okay. Did you read it and think about friendship when you read it? Because when I read it, all I thought about was friendship.
Alexandra Friedman 36:26
I don’t know why flossing actually is like the thing that stuck out.
Alex Alexander 36:30
So he talks about – in one part of the book – how somebody decided they were going to be ‘the person that worked out.’ His [Clear’s] thing is to start you have to decide you are that person. Wou have to choose. So, as far as the friendship stuff goes, you have to decide ‘You are a person who meets people and makes friends.’
Alex Alexander 36:55
Then James Clear says, ‘Start with the easiest thing. The thing you cannot fail at.’ So this person would go to the gym, every day, and was allowed to walk in, spend five minutes in the gym and walk out. Didn’t even have to work out, just had to go to the gym. Now, it’s pretty hard to not convince yourself to do it to keep that promise to yourself. You don’t even have to work out, you just have to go in there. Over time, then, “Well, I’m gonna be the person that works out five minutes every day.” “I’m gonna be the person that works out 10 minutes every day.” So, make it so easy, you can’t fail.
Alex Alexander 37:31
I think about that with friendship. Deciding you are the ‘person who makes and maintains friends.’ Then deciding that like, ‘a person that makes the maintains friends texts one person a month’ and you have to do it. Then, maybe, after you’ve done that for a few months, you text a person a week. Tou propose one meetup a week. Tou go to one group, Connection Feast, a month. Whatever it is. But starting so small, and just deciding ‘you’re that person’ is the beginning of building those webs with the people and building closer friendships.
Alexandra Friedman 38:14
Yeah, I do remember those stories within that Atomic Habits.
Alex Alexander 38:20
I’m not very good at habits. So, if you blacked it out, because you’re not good at habits either. Don’t worry, I’m with you.
Alexandra Friedman 38:26
I’m actually good at some habits, for sure. I am a fitness person. And I go to the gym consistently. So that example that he gave, really does sit with me. What’s challenging with that – I will counter and say — what’s challenging with something like that, is that a gym is static. A gym and lifestyle like that, has one, theoretically, one person involvement.
Alexandra Friedman 38:52
The next step – Yes – you go to the gym for five minutes. Of course, you’re going to stay longer, you might end up being there two hours, and you’re not really working out. But at least you’re going. You’re now a gym person. So it doesn’t require another person. But it does demonstrat, and I think this is the point of what that book brings up and that example, specifically is, you’re saying, once you prove that to yourself, what other doors can I open within that?
Alexandra Friedman 39:20
The gym doesn’t owe us anything. The people at the gym don’t owe us anything. My body is certainly not going to change. Even if I just go for five minutes. I will change a little bit. It’s really the mindset there, and the crazy part about that example, and I don’t remember if he stated this or not, mindset changes so much about how we act. How our body feels. How our body responds.
Alexandra Friedman 39:45
So in that example — well, I think Alex and I, we both understand that’s a static thing and I can’t control how another person reacts to me if I text you and you don’t respond.
Alexandra Friedman 39:55
I’d never do that, by the way. But if I texted Alex, she didn’t respond ever. I can’t control that. But I know that I reached out.
Alexandra Friedman 40:05
I’m the type of person that says what I will do, right?
Alexandra Friedman 40:09
On the flip side, when another person is involved, it’s not like, I can say, “Hey, I’m going to be a friendship magnet. In order for me to demonstrate to the self, I’m going to have a dinner party once a week, and I’m going to invite 10 people. I’m gonna have 10 new people come once a week. Can you promise me that you’ll come once a month to my dinner parties, Alex? That is a lot of pressure for somebody else. That is a lot of expectation on somebody else. Also, once a week, don’t do that a lot. But I think when the person becomes an involvement — that I can understand why I’m pushing back, and I’d love to hear your thoughts — with a habit like that, or even a mindset. It will definitely change how people interact and how you feel about yourself. But it won’t necessarily instantaneously change how somebody else responds. They’re not on board with you on that habit change.
Alex Alexander 41:04
No, but I think it’s about putting yourself in that place.
Alex Alexander 41:08
You’re deciding, you’re gonna host one dinner party a month. You are putting yourself out there as ‘open to meeting new people.’ You’re putting yourself in a place where you are interacting in a way you weren’t before.
Alex Alexander 41:23
This is assuming somebody was choosing not to go to big social things. You’re creating that space. You’re adding to your life – the opportunities. I think that’s what I’m getting at is; I think that so much of friendship and community is putting yourself in the places where you can be around the right people.
Alexandra Friedman 41:47
Oh, yes. Absolutely.
Alex Alexander 41:49
And that doing that repeatedly over time… I mean, I want to say you’re bound… I just.
Alex Alexander 41:55
If you’re out there, and you’re doing this, and you are doing that repeatedly, and not meeting someone call Alex and I. We’d love to chat with you, because I think that you are bound at a certain point to meet somebody that is interesting. Especially if it’s somewhere where the same people are frequenting – You’re gonna see the same people. Start to say Hi to them when you walk in the door. Start to chat. Start to say, “What happened in the last month? How was that trip?” And that’s all building slowly.
Alexandra Friedman 42:26
Yes, you are correct, and I love that example in saying that, “You can have something static and still create relationships, and have relationship practice/friendship practice/connection practice at these types of new habits that one creates.”
Alexandra Friedman 42:45
I’m sure most of the listeners know about countless studies that demonstrate that you are so greatly impacted by the people around you. It’s actually quite scary.
Podcast Intro 42:59
It’s like the five people you spend the most time with. Yeah.
Alexandra Friedman 43:02
You’re more likely to be unhealthy, and living an unhealthy lifestyle, if you’re around other people who are living an unhealthy lifestyle. But the crazy thing is, you might not even be aware that it’s unhealthy. That’s because it’s so important to be surrounding yourself around activities and doing things consistently enough that are in alignment with the values you want to live. Naturally over time, I agree with you Alex, you will start to surround yourself around more of those types of people, and pausing and being like, “Those people don’t have to become an over playing at your house every night. Or coming over where you’re talking to them every day.”
Alexandra Friedman 43:41
The actual influence of having those people in your life, consistently will show you and impact your life. Then over time, I totally agree – those relationships start to deepen, and then one day. “Let’s grab a tea. Let’s grab a coffee and go on a walk” and those friendships because you realize, “Oh, wow, we’re already so deeply connected.”
Want to learn more about how we are connected with friends? Read about my Roots Framework.
Alexandra Friedman 44:01
The ‘five people surround thing’ – there’s controversy around that. I don’t even know if it’s necessarily the five. Alex and I certainly have many ‘fives.’ Lots of different circles around us.
Alexandra Friedman 44:11
Ya, I have many ‘fives.’
Alexandra Friedman 44:12
Many ‘fives.’ The truth is, I am greatly impacted by the people in my life. I’m super inspired by Alex, for example
Alex Alexander 44:20
Oh, I am super inspired by you.
Alexandra Friedman 44:22
I’m super inspired by podcasts. It’s going to impact me in a way where it’s like “She can do it. I know I can too.” That might seem simple to some people, but if we don’t see that represented within people kind- of directly in our lives. It’s not like Alex has to coach me. It has a direct impact on what I think I can accomplish. So, the habits, what I like about your example is; you then become a gym person, but then you also become a curious person about people.
Alexandra Friedman 44:51
If you like cooking, you become curious about your own lifestyle and your own habits. I will put an example, right now, of something I’ve been intimidated to do. I’m a very athletic person. A very active person, but I’m a very independent sport person and I’ve never really been part of group sports. I have, in the past, felt very intimidated about how to get involved in group sports, and have put it off for a long time. This is weird for me, because I think I would love this,
Alex Alexander 45:26
I think you would love it to.
Alexandra Friedman 45:28
Ya had to ask my friend, Naomi, who’s a co-host Connection Feast, she’s 26. She told me my eyeliner was outdated. She also tells me all these fashion things. That’s the benefit of having some younger friends, sometimes.
Alexandra Friedman 45:41
But she’s very involved in lots of team sports and I want to be the type of person that makes a habit of being part of… I want to be a “team sports person.” I want to be a volleyball player. I want to be… I have to pick which one and that’s where I get a little stuck. But the cool thing is, I like about a group sport and having that concept change in my mind and having that new habit is that I’m often feeling like a lone wolf, in what I’m creating. I think it will be cool to have a goal with people, even if it is figuratively – we’re aiming for a goal, or getting a point together. We can celebrate that win together. It’s kind of like what Connection Feast does. Having a shared goal together and creating that is going to create this type of you know, bond will naturally help create a sense of celebratory or disappointment, that you can then connect with. I haven’t had that kind of connection, because in my mind, “I haven’t been a team sports person.”… Yet.
Alex Alexander 46:41
I mean, I… I was in team sports, for like a decade. Yeah. I was on the crew team. That is an ultimate team sport. I think you’re right – the share of the win and the hard work. That’s definitely a connector for people. There’s no doubt about it. That’s so great as an adult to want to put yourself in that situation.
Alexandra Friedman 47:04
And somehow I have had a block, and I’m bringing this up, because Alex and I might talk about this kind of stuff a lot — But, doesn’t mean we don’t have our own struggles or opportunities, rather.
Alexandra Friedman 47:14
I don’t know why I’ve just never thought of myself as that type of person. I actually think it has something to do with this thing I associate with like ‘pressure on my time.’ I’ve always noticed the it’s like something to do with time. That I feel… I get a little angsty about time feeling controlled. I want to be the type of person that plays group sports. I want to be the type of person that can make connections through team sports and achieve a goal with people that is not about work. That’s fun and playful. It’s a hurdle, and now I have to change my mindset on that because it’s… I think it’ll open up a lot of really beautiful friendships for me.
Alex Alexander 47:52
One of my favorite things about group sports is that ‘frequency’ piece. Deciding that you’re a ‘group sports person.’ It is a constraint on your time, because now other people are depending on you to be at the game. To be at practice. Be a part of it. You can’t be quite as free. But… that’s also like a new habit, a new identity. You are part of the collective you’re working towards that collective goal. I think that’s a really beautiful, new ‘type’ of connection, maybe, that you haven’t had.
Alexandra Friedman 48:23
Yeah, I was on the drill team in high school. What does that movie? Where they… Oh, I know, somebody’s listening…
Alex Alexander 48:30
…I am the worst at movies!
Alexandra Friedman 48:31
It’s going to come to me. Bring It On, I think. It’s where they compete.
Alex Alexander 48:34
Alexandra Friedman 48:35
Okay. It was exactly like that movie. It was extremely intense. We practiced at 6am every day. I was captain my senior year. That was a collaborative sport. We competed.
Alexandra Friedman 48:49
Am I still friends with those people from high school? No, not really. But it did, at the time, create a lot of discipline and connection for me that I have not really recreated. I would really love to do that. So yeah, I think what’s really helpful in a lot of these kinds of conversations is to be like, “Even people like us — We have our own kind of cool opportunities for exploring within how to deepen our own friendships.” Like that’s one of mine.
Alex Alexander 49:12
Oh my gosh, I have… Yes. So many. It never ends.
Alex Alexander 49:16
I mean, you could look at someone… us, right? We talked about this on the internet and think everything is great. AND things are good. I don’t feel lonely to the point of… you know, feeling rock bottom. Nowhere near. But this… never ends. Actually. I was thinking recently. I think the reason I love talking about friendship so much is because every time I think I know a good amount about friendship. I am utterly humbled by these relationships. Some new dynamic appears some friendship change happens. People move away and I’m grieving. Somebody I depended on in one area is moving on, maybe, they were a business friend, and now they’re going to shut down their business. I don’t know. It never ends. It never ends. There’s always new things.
Alex Alexander 50:15
I don’t even know what my current one is. I think my current one is — I used to have much better habits, I used to be better about checking in and scheduling time. Because I’ve been working so much to launch this podcast and finish the book, I have totally let that slip. I have not been anywhere near as good. So it feels silly to be talking about it on the internet, when I know, I’m not doing as great of a job as I want to be in that.
Alex Alexander 50:51
But I actually, you know, meeting new friends and going to events like Connection Feast was actually something that, about a year ago, was pretty high on my list. Meeting someone like you that I had just met on the internet was something I hadn’t done in a while.
Alex Alexander 51:14
I had met friends through work and I had like good friends from college that still lived in the area and I had friends from high school. But it’s been a while since I’ve met someone just kind of in the circumstances of life and actually pursued being friends. So our friendship is a direct result of actually something that a year ago was on my ‘to-work-on’ list.
Alexandra Friedman 51:42
Oh, I feel so honored.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 51:44
Thank you so much for tuning into today’s episode. You can find Alex [Friedman] over on Instagram, her handle is at @connectionfeast.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 51:54
Be sure to check out her events if you’re local to Seattle or the virtual ones — both are great! Don’t worry, she will be back. We’ll air the second half of this marathon conversation her and I had, in just a few weeks. And with that, we’ll a new episode for you next week. I gotta run my house is full of all my people. Have a good day.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 52:22
Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship ILR. I am so honored to have these conversations with you, but don’t let the chat die here.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 52:31
Alex Alexander [Narration] 52:47
Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 52:53
Now if you want to take this conversation a step further. Send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting and use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.