Welcome to Thrive! A weekly advice column for creatives and the generally confused.
How do people, like, MEET people now that we don’t live in the dorms?! I have NO idea.
Colleges and universities are environments built with one thing in mind: to keep their students paying tuition. Everything is created to cater to you, including giving you the ability to make friends with relative ease. Weeknight dorm mixers, bars with drink deals, teams and groups for every interest imaginable are just the tip of the iceberg. So it’s no surprise that when we graduate we feel a big loss. Our friends don’t live down the hall anymore. They don’t eat in the dining hall or at the same five restaurants in town. Your crew has scattered and you’re feeling the loneliness to an extreme degree. This is especially true for anyone who has graduated just last year or the year before. And even if your friends haven’t scattered, the interests of your dorm friends change and expand as you all grow, which still makes getting drinks with them once a month fun, but leaves little room for you guys to be as close as you once were.
The solution to your problem exists in two parts. First, you need to get in the right mindset. Second, you gotta find the right places to look.
Be Open! – Making new friends is like dating. If you meet someone new and then immediately dismiss them from becoming something more because they don’t like sushi or they don’t watch Game of Thrones, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed quite a bit. I know you are capable of talking about something other than GOT, so make an effort. If they don’t make the effort right back, then you have my permission to bail.
Be Open Pt. 2! – When you’re are out and about, try not to cut off conversations early. I have a friend that I met at rooftop party because he hated something I was interested in trying and I met another friend of mine by answering a Craigslist ad for a writing gig. Yes, things like this happen if you lend your attention to others and give out some of your time and energy. I know that’s tough and sometimes it won’t be worth it. (I met some girls on the same rooftop. It was when we got drinks two weeks later that I discovered we were not a good friend fit.) But if you want new pals, some effort and some failures will be required!
It Takes Time! – You can feel a connection with someone almost immediately but it takes time for a friendship to form. Make dates with each other and honor them. Bailing at the last second is (sometimes) ok for your friend of 15 years, but not for the guy you just met last week! In a dorm you make friends remarkably fast because you’re all living on top of one another. Things move a lot more slowly in real life. Be on time, be respectful, and show up.
Be Brave! – You’re going to have to share details about yourself. I’m not saying you need to give them your full autobiography on the spot, but be ready and willing to tell them who you are and what you’re all about so that they feel safe to do the same in return. And also, ACCEPT INVITES to stuff. Stop turning invites down to watch Netflix instead… Sometimes we’re really tired and need a veg night and sometimes… sometimes we’re avoiding something scary. Know the difference.
Now that you’re set up for success, here are a few tips on where to meet new people:
- Ask for introductions – Your college friend moved to Boston but their high school bestie still lives in LA? Get introduced!
- Volunteer – You’ll find someone who is also into shelter cats.
- Be Friendly to Acquaintances – Maybe the bartender at your favorite bar is actually your BFF in hiding but you’re avoiding eye contact every Saturday. Strike up a conversation.
- Use technology – Join a Meetup.com group, or download one of the many friend finder apps out there.
- Learn – Sign-up for a club or class in something you’ve always wanted to try. You might suck at painting ceramics, but you might just find a new friend in the only person in class worse than you.
I know a lot of this seems like, ‘Duh!’ and it can be, but the key take away here is to pay attention to how you carry yourself, how you introduce yourself, and how you share your energy. If you give out good, you’ll ultimately receive good in return.
THRIVE is answered by Amanda Kusek