WRITTEN BY STACEY BELL
It had been nearly three years since I had left behind the cobbles of Auld Reekie for the coastline of Saint Andrews; home of golf, William and Kate, and Janetta’s Gelateria. Leaving Saint Andrews was somewhat bittersweet, but for me and my friends, our studies were finally finished and we were leaving Fife life to make our place in the world. I had bagged the dream job and I was coming back to Edinburgh!
I am incredibly fortunate to have a tight group of friends in Edinburgh, and of course my beloved forever friends from back home and Saint Andrews, who each bring so much love and laughter to my life. However, as we get older, somehow life gets in the way; marriage, mortgages, and babies naturally replace club nights, festivals, and jäger bombs, and seeing friends regularly becomes more difficult. And so I decided that making some new friends would help me in fully embracing life in the city I was to call home.
We live in an age of technology. At the swipe of a finger you can have a pizza, a taxi, or a soulmate delivered directly to your doorstep, and although convenient and fun(!), in this fast paced society we live in, making real friendships is not so easy, especially as we get older and our lives even busier.
Naturally, as a child or even as a younger adult, life and circumstance mean making new friends is easy; be it over the sandbox at primary school, or in the dorms during Freshers Week. But making friends as an adult? It’s tough. Outside of work, there is little opportunity to meet a whole bunch of new people, and bizarrely, the open desire to make new friends seems almost taboo to the social media generation. So started my relationship with Meetup.
Honestly, the first event I braved (group not disclosed), I thought would be my last. I spent ages getting ready,wondering what to wear and hoping they’d like me, before downing two generous G&Ts to take the edge off. Sadly like the worst first date, there was no chemistry, and the night ended in some unwelcome groping. Alas, Meetup wasn’t for me…
Flash forward one year, and an old school friend and fellow Athena lady, Debbie, suggested an Athena Meetup. I was hesitant, but with an open mind I found myself putting on my favourite dress, cracking the gin, and taking a taxi to Dragonfly (FYI, they do the best Burnt Island Iced Tea!).
Honestly, this is one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming back to Edinburgh. I found my people. Eve was the first person I spoke to that night. I remember an amazing skirt, her penchant for a good G&T, and right away we were chatting music and drinking cocktails. Over the course of the evening I met so many amazing women, all unique, all from many different professions and backgrounds, and that was the beauty of it. It’s unlikely we would have met under any other circumstance, but here we were.
Over the next few weeks, and now months, I’ve gotten to know and admire each of these women, and we’ve become really good friends. We’ve had great craic drinking Guinness on St Paddy’s Day, downing buckets of cocktails to bring in our birthdays, sunning ourselves at the meadows festival, with many brunches in between.
Sure, we don’t have life all figured out yet, and hell, we probably never will, but together, Athena have a great time trying. We don’t judge. We build each other up, we are badass, and most importantly, we are unapologetically ourselves. These women have not only helped me fall in love with this city again, but also fall in love with myself again too.
Individually we are strong. Collectively? We are unstoppable.
Sign up to our meetup group here: www.meetup.com/athena-collectiv