After college, I fell into a very deep depression. So deep, I didn’t know I was drowning until my mother threw me a lifesaver by offering to pay for therapy. I took it upon myself to begin to heal even though I could not see or describe the wounds that had cut me so deep.
The truth was that I was suffering from post-graduate depression. It’s a phenomenon that happens when you leave the community of opportunity and fall into “the real world”. No one tells you had college even if subconsciously makes you feel special, accepted, and chosen – especially if you were someone like me who found their tribe in college. The world, however, constantly reminded me that I am more regular than degular.
Not to mention, I went to an HBCU (historically black college/university) which made me, a black American woman feel like a majority for once in my life. Therefore, returning to my hometown, three states away from the only adult life I’d ever experienced, felt like I was mourning a death.
For months, I woke up, went to work, came home, and went to sleep. A soul-sucking cycle that offered no room for real connection or community. Finally, I decided to try to make friends in the area. Even though I grew up in Woodbridge, VA, most of my friends had left the surrounding area and created their own lives elsewhere. So I began sowing together threads of people – people I’d met online, friends that had moved to the area from my alma mater, and visiting my friends around the country.
One day, a childhood friend that runs a non-profit called Be Great DC (hey Rachael) held an event called Working Women Wednesday. It was hosted at a We Work in DC and essentially was an event for young women of color to come together, network, and meet one another while also feeling productive in the progress. As I was recanting the difficult transition of coming back home and feeling like a stranger, a friendly voice said, “Hey. I don’t mean to interrupt, but I overheard you talking about struggling to try to make friends in the area. I actually have a social group I’m putting together called HeyNewFriends that is specifically to create space for women in the surrounding area to come together and meet like-minded individuals.”
If that isn’t divine-timing, then slide me a dictionary! This friendly voice ended up being HeyNewFriends’ founder and once she added me to the GroupMe, I was greeted with the warmest welcome.
When I became a part of HeyNewFriends, I began to experience community and sisterhood in a completely different way. Through HNF, I began to come out of my shell. Meeting me or following me on social media, I know that my personality comes off bubbly, but I can be quite reserved until I feel comfortable. Not only were they there to party and brunch together, but HNF has shown me a part of DC, Maryland, and Virginia that I may have never known.
Through community service, book clubs, and networking events, I’ve started to be able to carve out emotional and spiritual space for myself that was seriously lacking in those first few months out of college. The reason? Because I found community again. These women are listening ears, prayer warriors, a shoulder to cry on, and even earthly saviors in my case. Without the pressure to call every day or maintain individual friendships, I have been able to go into any event hosted or supported by HeyNewFriends and see a friendly face in a sea of strangers.
It truly has been a blessing to be able to share moments with people that you know have good intentions. Everyone in HeyNewFriends has a singular purpose. That purpose is to create a safe, comfortable community for others, which is why every individual moment can feel so intimate. It truly is a worthwhile experience – so if you’re reading this and craving a missing piece whether it’s because of a break-up, transitions, or loss, come join HeyNewFriends – you won’t regret it.