A few years ago, my family and I moved across the country to a lively town of many unknowns: Nashville, Tennessee. As we left our family, childhood friends and familiar surroundings, we were faced with a new scenario and asked ourselves: how do we make adult friends and navigate a new community as an inter-abled couple?
We've come to realize there is a large population of people who have never had friends with disabilities. Because of this, everything in our "normal" scope of life can be new to someone else.
“We knew we had an opportunity to be ourselves and show others that our lives are not as different as they think.”
Our hope was to make new friends, show them the fun people we are and truly enjoy our new city like everyone else did.
Making friends as adults has its struggles already, but mix in the unique situations of inaccessible houses, particular dining preferences and different needs, and you could easily find yourself with a "not-so-typical" friendship.
As we were seeking new adult friend groups, we wanted to help people better understand my needs and how I receive support from others (aside from my significant other). As we embarked on this journey of settling in our new community, we had to be very intentional with reaching out to new friends, putting ourselves out there and sticking true to the kind of friends we know we are and were seeking to have.
We love hosting friends, so we would invite new people over for dinners often. Opening your home and family to strangers can be a big jump for some, but we loved it every time. It allowed others to see us in our element. Me as a mom, Jake as the chef and all of us as friendly people. If that seems too personal, meeting for lunch is another option that has worked for us! Worried that they may pick a place that doesn't do well with your food restrictions or spatial needs? Suggest the location!
We decided early on to be open to new things! As we explored a new town with new friends, there were things we found that just didn't work for our situation, like hiking a waterfall. But we took those opportunities to communicate what would work for us, such as camping or outdoor movie nights.
We realized our new friends were not used to viewing life through "accessible or inaccessible lenses" in the beginning - but I can confidently say that has changed!