I mean what kinda crazy rule is that anyway? No new friends? Really? I’ll never forget when I first started seeing people tag #nonewfriends on Instagram and was wondering what kinda bitter foolishness is that? Who stole your lunch on the playground and got you looking like grumpy cat 20 years later? Stop, put down the violins and consider how much joy could flood your life if you were open to the possibilities of new people outside of your “day one n*ggas”
I’ll never forget some not-so-wise advice I received from an older girlfriend when I was fresh out of college. She told me “Tracey you’re not really gonna meet any new friends, honey. You’ll meet new people, but your real friends are the ones you already have.”
At the time I was 22 years old, new to Atlanta, and the only friend I had at the time was my roommate from college. And those words frightened me. Like, this is it? Not that my high school or college friends aren’t awesome, but with all of them so far away, and me stuck in that post-college, who-am-I-and-what-am-I-here-
Until I moved even further away from everyone I loved and started a new life in New York City. Suddenly, I was forced to travel, both within the US to visit family and friends, and internationally to escape the wrist-slitting side effects of Winter in NYC. Suddenly, my circle of friends began to grow exponentially. I began meeting people with the same passion for adventure as I had discovered in myself, and they became (wait for it)…new friends!
(Take that Drake!)
On my last trip to Trinidad Carnival, there was a pivotal moment outside of the fun and feathers that turned 20 acquaintances into friends. We were outside a breakfast party waiting to leave, and one of our friends who had recently lost her father was having a difficult time. Something triggered his memory, causing a breakdown right in the middle of our 20 passenger van. She was inconsolable, crying so hard she had to get out of the van and let it all out. Unsure of what else to do, a “new friend” who had known only her for a few days decided to lead us all in an emotional prayer, wrapping her in our collective arms of love and praying for her peace and healing in that moment.
You’d never tell from the smiling costume photos and the beach bikini shots that get posted, but it’s the moments in between those photos where friendships are formed. Whether you’re
sick #whitegirlwasted and simply need someone to hold your hair, or get separated from the group and are convinced you’re gonna be kidnapped by bandits until your friends find you and all is well in the world (hypothetically) – these memories in between beach selfies are where #newfriends are born while traveling, and are what you remember most after you return.
In the weeks following our trip to carnival, these ladies proved to me that No New Friends is a stupid rule. Here’s why:
“I knew this trip would be epic……but it was even better than I imagined. Life can get pretty tough, as we all know. But having genuinely loving, yet certifiably crazy friends makes life worth living. I am truly blessed.”
“I love you guys. I had such a wonderful time with my old crazy friends and the new crazy ones I just met.”
“You guys have me crying a blasted river!! I absolutely adore all over you.”
“It’s funny how we gush all over each other with compliments and love. But this is a great group of folks who create great memories. Smh. Getting teary eyed. Virtual hugs to everyone.”
These friendships and the new ones to come are one of the reasons I’ll never stop traveling. It’s the reason I jumped on the OHPsalms #TravelFamily trip last year where I only knew a few people, and went again this year to hang with all my new friends from last year! It’s also the reason I’m headed to India in February with a bunch of strangers in the Nomadness Travel Tribe and only one friend coming with me.
Never ever let anyone tell you your friends for life are the ones from high school. Or college. Or your sorority/fraternity or your block back home or your day one n*ggas or any other foolishness you hear on the radio. Friends come into your life as long as you let them and traveling outside of your comfort zone is just another way to connect with like-minded individuals who share the same passion for life that you do.
Treat each vacation as an opportunity to expand your circle, and even if you don’t need any new friends, maybe someone else does and you can pour into someone else’s life in a positive way.