I've been lucky to stumble in to some of the greatest personal and professional friendships of my life by virtue of happenstance.
In 2010, I moved to Las Vegas to escape the high cost of living in Southern California and seek new professional opportunities. At the time, I was newly hired to work on a sustainability grant program focusing on training youth for 'green' jobs. Through the small-town nature of Las Vegas (more on that in another post!), I kept bumping into the same sets of people at meetings and events. We formed acquaintances and soon after, real friendship. Initially, four of us saw each other so often at events that we began to form a bond. Recognizing that we were all women, around the same age, and working in similar fields allowed us a level of comfort and trust in our communication and for our friendships to grow. We also eschewed the tempting and far likelier "let's all meet up for happy hour" plans for a standing meeting to go early on a weekend morning to take a long hike or walk, trying out different parks and trails throughout our valley. We soon added a fifth and sixth friend to our little group, which we'd affectionately nicknamed the Girl Tribe.
The value of these friendships to me has been priceless, I cannot overstate the number of times throughout the years these wonderful women have offered myself and each other support, guidance, empathy, reality checks, advice, and comfort. We all have backgrounds in nonprofits and public agencies, as front-line workers and fundraisers, to management, all the way to the top executive position. Each of us has different professional experience, which we all bring to the table collectively when we spend time together. I'm convinced it's key to my success professionally, as the perspectives of my friends as professional colleagues whom I deeply respect have been invaluable as I've moved through my career in the last near-decade.
Because of the level of trust we have in one another and our friendship, we can freely discuss what is going on in our lives and in our workplaces. Collectively, we offer each other a listening ear, a place to vent, a source of advice and counsel, commiseration, and perspective. We challenge each other when something feels off, we encourage each other to think of things in different ways, and we bolster each other with the lessons we've learned from our own experiences. On our long hikes and walks, we take the opportunities to talk through situations and challenges so that our partners, families, friends, and colleagues don't have to hear as much about those things from us. We ask each other for advice, and help each other make decisions. I've learned a tremendous amount from these women over the years, for which I'm eternally grateful. So, to Amelia, Rae, Lauren, Kate and Elaina...all I can say is thank you, I love you all so much!