Making friends as a new adult is hard. You don’t fit in the college church youth group and you don’t fit it at Mommy’s Day Out, either (or whatever that’s called). The gym is happenin’ place for young professionals, but who really wants to make sweaty introductions in-between reps? Plus, what about the complete awkwardness of introducing yourself at random…What do you say?
“Hey, you don’t seem like a serial killer…Wanna be friends?”
Cory and I were having dinner with other young professionals, friends from my college days, when one guest began her awkward – albeit hilarious – tale of making a new friend in a new town. She, like us and so many other post grads, are transplants to towns we were never familiar with until we landed jobs. Everything she said was so relatable…Making a new acquaintance, then the awkwardness of “Do I text her first? I text twice & she hasn’t responded…Definitely not interested in friendship….OMG SHE JUST TEXT BACK! She invited me to her wedding shower…Should I go? Or was it like a, hey-I-just-met-you-here’s-a-courtesy-invite-but-please-don’t-for-real-show-up kind of thing?”
The awkwardness of making new, adult friends is real. And sometimes, real funny. That’s the risk of putting yourself out there…you may say or do something really weird, embarrass yourself, or mistake someone’s pantry for the exit IN FRONT OF EVERYONE (don’t judge me). In short, blind dates with new friends could be a disaster.
Or, you may get lucky and find people who are the laugh-with-you-not-at-you kind. And then kindly inform you that the pantry door is, indeed, NOT the exit.
Here’s the thing: making new friends in a new place is a long process. After a year in College Station, TX, Cory & I have finally found our groove. Yes, it took a whole year to start to feel like we belong. Looking back on the past 12ish months, we agreed on a few tried-and-true tactics for making friends in new places.
1. Get curious. I asked Cory how he made so many friends at work, and developed such camaraderie with subordinates and upper level managers. He said “I ask a lot of questions…About their families, wives, husbands, kids, where they went to school…Everyone loves to tell their own story.”
2. Get creepy. I mean this in the most legal, socially acceptable way. Please do not dress in an ankle length trench coat & proceed to stalk strangers down the street. I mean, get creepy on social media. When I moved to College Station, I started following all the movers & shakers: reporters, bloggers, volunteers, community advocates & leaders. When one local blogger tweeted about a current read, I initiated a conversation, she DM’d me an invite to her book club, I actually go, & BOOM. Now I meet monthly with a bunch of really cool women I can call friends. Social media is meant to be, ya know, social. If we can find jobs, take classes or meet our soul mates online, we can meet our friends online, too. Get involved in the online community, initiate conversation and then take those relationships into the real world.
3. Say yes. Okay, I know by all appearances I am an extrovert. But I actually test much more “middle ground” than you’d probably imagine…and that results in a strong, introverted desire to spend every night in various states of undress while watching Netflix in lieu of participating in social functions. Cue Cory, stage left. On an average Thursday or Friday night he comes roaring in, informs me that he has already committed us to a social engagement and that I have 30 minutes to put on a bra, pants and some makeup and get my skinny butt out the door. Cory is a YES man, and thank God, because it’s lead us to a lot of great new friendships and new social circles.
When you move to a new place, do everything you can in the first 12 months to say yes to invites…Mixers, tweet ups, a night out at a new pub, a bar crawl, joining a professional association…whatever comes your way. See what fits, sift through what doesn’t and enjoy the excitement of meeting new people and taking chances.
All in all, we are really happy here. And confident that we can make life work & work well, no matter where we land. That’s the best thing about new, big, scary experiences: they give you the chance to prove to yourself that you can do anything, anywhere.
(Still not wearing maroon, btw.)
photo credit: uBookworm via photopin cc