An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building Community

An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building Community

An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building Community

Guest Post by Anusha Shrivastava, PhD

Blog128_CommunityFriendships_Yoga-200x300 An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building CommunityAlternating between trikonasana and setubandhasana on a grassy meadow at my local Y last week, it hit me how the instruments in my search for friendship and building community have changed.

Over 20 years ago, I was a first-time mother, stuck at home in New York City. At the time, I didn’t have the right visa to be able to work. Now, I’m a suburbanite with two children, on my second career, stuck at home because of a pandemic.

Two decades apart, what enabled me to meet new people is very different—a newborn then, outdoor yoga now—but the parallels are strong. Both times, I was in distress. I felt isolated. Not in control. Both times, meeting like-minded people buoyed my mood. Both times, I made friends and emerged stronger. Both times, it was the community-building that saved me.

When, in 1999, the initial excitement of cuddling a newborn was over and my parents had returned to Delhi, I was left holding a six-month-old while my husband went to work. I didn’t know anyone else in my situation, and everyone I knew from before my son’s birth seemed busy. Through the daze of my sleep-deprived existence, I didn’t have anyone to talk to about burping, changing diapers, and the oh-so-exciting moment when my baby tried to roll over.

Blog128_CommunityFriendships_Dhruvs2ndBirthday-300x143 An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building Community
Anusha’s son Dhruv’s 2nd birthday with the Mother and Baby Group

All that changed when, one evening, walking along the East River, I read a poster on a community board advertising a Mother and Baby Group. Curious, I showed up for the first “class.” There was Dawn from Minnesota, Tracy from Kenya, Meg from the Netherlands, and Zsuzsa from Hungary. If you chanced upon this motley crew, you’d wonder what we possibly could have in common. Well, it was our babies and our decision to be home with them. Thankfully, we could also speak the same language!

We attended the weekly classes to talk about our babies’ latest antics, their adventures with food, and how we were dealing with the mountain-high change in our lives. Soon enough, we began meeting for daily coffee chats in one another’s apartments. Those conversations over cake were the highlight of our days.

Blog128_CommunityFriendships_DawnAndrewDhruvAnusha-300x169 An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building Community
Two “Mother and Baby” pairs today—Anusha and her son Dhruv and Dawn and her son Andrew

We relied on one another if a caregiver didn’t show up. We often cooked—and ate—together. Zsuzsa’s chilled fruit soup and paprika chicken were the best! We joked about the handsome pediatrician we were going to see at the babies’ next check up. We went on walks and played in the sandpit. Our bonds remained so strong that even after we outgrew the Mother and Baby Group, we are still in touch, though our group is now spread across three continents.

Fast forward to this new phase of our lives when we are forced to shelter in place. Physical distancing has advantages like no commute and no morning alarms, but it has also completely cramped our social lives, shutting off opportunities to meet new people.

This, to me, feels artificial, restrictive, and isolating. I very keenly feel the loss of being able to hug the friends I love. No number of Zoom or WhatsApp video calls can ever make up for the warmth one feels in an embrace.

Yogaclass2-225x300 An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building Community
Outdoor yoga at The Y

So, a few weeks ago, when the Y announced we could start attending outdoor yoga lessons, I was the first one to sign up. I haven’t missed a single lesson so far. Yes, it feels great to be breathing and stretching, but the biggest prize is the ability to meet new people who have been feeling similarly stifled.

Like the ladies in the Mother and Baby Group, my current yoga class has women who support one other. Yes, we practice together, but more importantly, we talk to one another—about the pandemic, about our grown children, and about the challenge of not being able to live the unrestricted lives to which we were so accustomed.

Like my friends from 20 plus years ago, these ladies don’t care about the extra pounds we’ve accumulated during the pandemic. They are not here to judge.

Like me, they are here to make friends and build community.

If you’re looking for friendship and community and in-person interaction is not an option for you or you’re just not sure where to start, you can check out Konversai. Konversai’s mission is to democratize knowledge, put the human connection back into the heart of technology, and make the world better by enabling meaningful and authentic conversations that enrich and improve people’s lives. It is a place where you can come as you are and meet new people across geographic and cultural boundaries. Get in on the fun and join Konversai today!

 

ASpicforLinkedIn-300x300 An Unending Quest: Finding Friendship & Building CommunityAnusha Shrivastava, PhD, is the Director of Career Development and Alumni Relations at the Department of Statistics at Columbia University in the City of New York. A business reporter for over two decades across three countries, she got her second master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2002. If you want to connect with Anusha one on one, you can find her on Konversai!

 

Edited by Pavita Singh

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