Greetings, Sowers!

There are holidays. There are Hallmark holidays. And there are Millennial holidays. And as someone who just bought her first Christmas decoration for her new apartment from Michaels a week before Thanksgiving, I am all in on all of them. 

The most important holiday of right now, though, is Friendsgiving (read up on where this tradition came from here). The newsletter this week, lovelies, is a little virtual Friendsgiving for us all.
This week, one of our very own is sharing her experience building friendships. Ambriehl and I connected through Sown a couple of months ago, as she was getting situated in an internship in Chicago after moving from her home state of Kentucky. She's been a passionate and determined member of this community and I wanted to hear her own feedback on making friends in a new place with Sown in her back pocket. 

This year, I'm thankful for each of you who has committed to this journey of making friends in adulthood. I have so loved chatting and sharing our stories and ideas on how to tackle this known but not discussed mini-crisis — it's meant a lot to me to have this community to check in with every week or so, and I hope you've enjoyed it too.

Sown will be pausing for the rest of 2018 but I'm looking forward to visiting each of your inboxes in early 2018, with more inspirations, connections, real-people talk, a fresh look, and maybe a gift for the new year if you all behave yourselves. 😉

In the meantime, I'd love to share this friendship with you in real life, too. If you'd like a Friendsgiving card this year — you all deserve it — would you mind popping your mailing address in here? I'll delete the data after, and won't use it for anything else. I respect and value your permission. 

Keep the Sown greetings going. Here's Ambriehl on how she tackled making friends in a new city: "I'm the kind of person where you're going to fix it or shut up — no complaining." You got this, Ambriehl. And so do the rest of you.

Your friend,


P.S. When you label the newsletter as the 33rd edition in the subject line......three might want to take time to refresh! My bad, folks, but thanks for your patience. 🤦🏼‍♀️
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Our chat has been edited + condensed for clarity.

Christine: Tell me a little bit more about yourself, where you’re from, and how you ended up in Chicago.

Ambriehl: I’m originally from Nashville. I went to school and college at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, an hour outside of Nashville, where I studied broadcast news. I went to Morocco for three weeks and studied abroad in Cuba for two weeks. I enjoyed exploring and it made me want to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

My mom always expressed to me that home is always home, to get out and spread my wings. My goal upon graduating was to get something in my field that would take me away from home. I got an internship in Portland and one in Chicago, and I made the decision to come to Chicago. I always thought it that would be so awesome if I lived there, and now I'm an intern at WBEZ.

Christine: What does friendship mean to you? What were you looking for when you set out to make friends in Chicago? 

Ambriehl: For me looking for friends, I’m a very ambitious, goal-driven person. A lot of time ti’s very easy for me to get sucked up in that instead of being social. I was just someone I can have fun with. Friendship is consistency and knowing that I can go to this person and what I can expect from them. That’s very important to me. If we make plans, knowing I can count on you to show up. If you tell me you’re going to do something I expect you to follow your word because that’s who who I am.

When I first decided to come here wasn’t thinking about making friends. I was in a rush to figure out the details. When I got here I was like "oh crap, I don’t know anyone!" I signed up for this newsletter before I even knew I was going to need to do this. It’s definitely been a struggle finding friends, juggle working a part-time job and a job to support myself, but I've been going to a group fitness class. We've mentioned doing something weekly or regularly. Now I’m more mindful of how I go about making friends.

My best friend went to college with me and she just moved to Denver. Before we moved, we were like "we got this, we're so ready to explore." I moved before her and I told her to realistically prepare yourself for how you can make friends before you get there. It never really hits you until you move. I moved in June and I'm here until the second week of December. That’s something kind of challenge because it’s not like me moving and being here permanently.

Christine: How has that sort of time limit impacted the way you've approached making friends?

Ambriehl: I feel like it impacts me wanting to get involved with organizations or commit to things. I don’t want to tell people I’m here for a short period because there's the risk of not a lot of buy-in. I’m aggressive at the beginning and try to be more proactive about it even if that’s like we’re going to get lunch and next week I'm going to meet someone else from Bumble BFF. I keep planning events for myself on a weekly basis and I keep getting involved and building relationships with the community or with individual people.
I decided to set up an intern meetup where I work because I’m building the relationships. It’s helped me put myself out there more, where are moments like "this is kind of awkward that I don’t really know you that well but just going for it." It's being a little 50 First Dates-ish, but I don’t really have anything to lose.

Christine: You said you've been building relationships with the community. What do you mean by that?

Ambriehl: I haven’t made a lot of individual, 1:1 relationships. I have some that may be work friends or whatever the case may be. But what I’ve loved about living here in Chicago is going to the community events. Being able to interact with the community members, having this exchange of knowledge and it being a rawness — that’s what’s helped me. That’s what’s important: Connecting to your community is just as important as trying to make a friend. 

Christine: So what was your gameplan once you decided you were going to be more deliberate about making friends? 

Ambriehl: I looked into doing Meetups on the website but I was faking myself out. I wasn’t holding myself accountable. I'd say "I’m going to put this in my calendar" and I just wouldn’t go. I didn’t have a reason but I just didn’t go. Then I was draining weekends and not hanging out with anyone or doing anything. At first it’s okay because you’re tired but then it gets lonely.

I’m the kind of person where you’re going to fix it or shut up — no complaining. So I was like, "how can I figure that out?" It was Bumble BFF, it was meeting up with other people, I went to a pop-up shop. It was me getting into a fitness class because that was something I personally wanted to do — why not put myself in a group atmosphere? — hanging out with work friends, or going to a cool event. I wanted to hold myself accountable, just like any other goal. I broke it down and thought what can I do every week that’s going to get me closer to this goal?

Christine: That's amazing. But what got you out the door to try those things you mention? What convinced you to actually do it?

Ambriehl: I just got fed up with myself not feeling like I was maximizing — I felt like I got very comfortable with being alone which is always a great thing, but I got tired of seeing unchecked things on my to-do list. People is what makes this experience unique. Some things you just can’t experience alone, some things are really awesome to do with somebody else because it helps create a memory. That feeling of nagging and I'm not doing anything about it.

I had to get over that hump. Once I started hanging out with people, maximizing talking with people at work, it made me enjoy my time here more, I feel like it helped me grow as a person and not feel so confined in meeting somebody. It is like 50 First Dates, when you first hang out or meet somebody, it’s like dating someone. You have to give them the best of you to get the best of them.

It was realizing that was in me, I realized there were standards I had in friendships I already had that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice or compromise on in new friends. There's a girl I hang out with sometimes but she can be very flaky, and I don’t like flaky people or always being the one to reach out. I got to a point where I was like, "I like hanging out with you. You’re cool, but I’m trying to build something here." Me expressing that to her helped that relationship.

Christine: What was the most helpful thing you did for yourself? 

Ambriehl: I think when I start to feel homesick or when I’m alone, if I’m starting to feel like "dang I want to be around people or I wish I had someone to call on," I figure out a way to go to an event right now or satisfy that feeling. Figuring out whatever it is for me at that moment to make sure I’m satisfied and I don’t let that feeling linger

Sometimes that means going to the gym. Yesterday I did start to feel like "oh why am I doing this." I had just went home for the weekend and I was around everyone I knew. So I said I need to go work out, I need something to go do currently and once I worked out it wasn’t in my mind at all. The workout class is a boot camp. Today we did a partner thing in one of the sets: I would go up to my partner and say "hey I did this amount of sets with the barbell" and she would do the number of sets with box jumps. It’s kind of nice working together.

I feel like over the weekend it was almost like I’ve gotten used to being by myself so much you have to adjust your level of socialization and give you 100%, that has changed, I’m used to being around people all the time. But it’s nice. I feel like it makes me more aware of giving people 100% when I’m in their presence, at work giving 100%. 
How has it been so far?

Christine: What are the biggest things you think you've learned in this experience?

Ambriehl: I feel like it’s made me more confident in who I am and being comfortable going and doing things alone and really owning it. I’ve been to a concert by myself, I went out to eat, I go to actual events alone, movies, I went to a food festival by myself. It’s so random but I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity just because I don’t have someone to go with.

This experience has helped me get more in tune with who I am, what I like and don’t like, and it makes me appreciate the interactions with people. I took for granted being able to walk to the next door of my apartment and being in my friends’ door.

Go sow: Challenge for the week. 

From Ambriehl: Create spaces or activities that are things you love to do that you can go to when you feel homesick or fed up. Have things that are productive ways of handling those feelings: it can be "I’m going to the gym and I’m bettering my body" and/or it doesn’t always have to include money. Figure out ways to get in tune with activities you enjoy at home or out and about that you can automatically go to if you’re feeling down.

The movies, by the way, is one of the best options. I did that on my birthday — I was miserable and it wiped away all of it. [Christine: What movie did you see?]
The Purge.

Grow the Sow.

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