Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:41 Written by Maureen Umehara Saturday, 13 December 2008 18:49
Who in your life would feel comfortable enough with you to look through your refrigerator with out having to ask permission?...
…This role is usually filled by family members and close friends (or a guest with really poor boundaries ;)). Dr Will Miller and Glenn Sparks, Ph.D, who are the authors of “Refrigerator Rights: Creating Connections and Restoring Relationship” report that in our current society there are less relationships like this than there used to be. They attribute it to such things as families moving far from one another, putting high importance on independence and productivity and today’s large array of media distractions.
I could relate to one example the authors give of a family who moved far from home. Things were fine until they had a crisis and realized they had not developed deep enough friendships to fall back on for support. Well, I’m a transplant too. My husband and I moved to RI from PA. I was going to school, we both worked, we moved several times and had our first child. Life was busy but good. It would be nice to have more of a social life but we were “too busy”. When I became pregnant with my second child I had a wake-up call. I casually knew a few people in the neighborhood and at work. However, I hadn’t developed close enough relationships with anyone I would feel comfortable leaving my first child with while I was in the hospital giving birth (and possibly at some wee hour in the morning!) Being pregnant and emotional I remember crying while thinking about the possibility of being in the delivery room without my husband. We worked it out (we ended up hiring a doula who also found a great family to help us out) but it was definitely a wake-up call.
After that I’ve tried to more consciously find ways to develop friends and build my “tribe” (as Soul at Work would call it) or ‘network' as some others would call it. This is also one of the reasons I started a social club and networking group for women (WCSWANS). I kept meeting other “transplants” who have had a similar experience of not feeling connected. So I started the club because I wanted to not only help myself but also other women to meet and have fun with other women in the area. Networking is often associated only with business. However, women network about all sorts of things (good books, movies, doctors etc) all the time, so why not create a club where women can network about business as well as other areas of life? I love having the opportunity through this club to meet, connect and learn from so many wonderful women with such diverse ages, backgrounds and interests.
I also try to challenge myself to put myself out there. If I meet someone I find intriguing and fun I try to ask them to coffee or invite them to a girls’ night I may be organizing. What can I lose? If they say “No”, I guess that could be a blow to my ego. But if they say ‘Yes” it might lead to a new friendship or at least an interesting conversation! Ok… sometimes I wimp out and don’t ask, but hey, I need to give myself credit….I used to not ask at all!
Who in your life has refrigerator rights? If you don’t have anyone yet or want more, what steps are you taking to create those friendships? What type of people would you like to give those rights to?
If you’re too busy or find it too challenging to expand your network at this time then I’ll leave you with a quote to ponder...
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive."
- Anais Nin