If only there were Tinder for finding a bestie...
Making new friends after college is harder than dating. Whether you moved across the country or just need some new people in your life, finding them at this stage can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Not only does it takes more energy and creativity to discover your platonic soul mate, but often, you don’t even know where to start. Here are 10 ideas:
Talk to strangers
I know what your momma told you, but I trust that you know better than to follow candy into the back of any van. What I mean is that if the opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to lead into a conversation with someone you don’t know by following social cues.
Try not to accost people in elevators or places where they can’t get away from you. We’re a generation that tends to ignore one another by pretending we’re texting, but most people are much nicer than they let on.
In school, it was easy; you could join the chess club or the basketball team to participate in activities with others. This still exists but has transformed into a world where strangers band together to explore mutual interests using, for example, online platforms.
There are whole networks on the World Wide Web dedicated to bringing people together under common causes. Whether you like hiking, gaming, dodgeball or anarchist cult gatherings, someone out there has, or is looking to, put together a group to do the things you enjoy.
Wander around your neighborhood
Get to know your barista. Wave to a fellow jogger. Say hello to your neighbor. I’m all too familiar with the lure of my Netflix queue, but it's time to get out of the house. Discover what your neighborhood has to offer. It might be a bar, a comedy club or a cool café.
If the fear of being by yourself in a social setting is immobilizing, maybe there's a roommate or coworker you can convince to come with you.
Work your work relationships
Mixing work and play can be a dangerous cocktail, but sometimes, your coworkers just get you. After all, you work at the same company, so you're privy to the same struggles.
Some of my best friends are people I’ve met on the job. We started out eating lunch together and now I can’t get rid of them.
Use your pets
This is the same strategy as borrowing your niece or nephew so you have an excuse to go trick-or-treating.
A dog makes you instantly more approachable. You can even try going to a dog park to talk with other owners. If you don’t have a puppy, accompany your friend when he or she walks his or her pooch. It’s a fun way to meet others who share a common interest.
Go to events
Many cities regularly host events like concerts, festivals and movies in the park. Any activity where people your age surround you is a great opportunity to socialize. Bond over great music, culture and your shared interests.
Try fitness classes
Instead of bolting after class, take your time. Talk to the teacher and any lagging students. Maybe you can commiserate over your workout. The same goes for arriving a little early.
Instead of standing in awkward silence outside the door, waiting for the instructor to let you in, strike up a conversation.
Take a close look at your acquaintances
An acquaintance is a step closer to being a real friend than a stranger. Think about people you’ve talked to in passing, even friends of friends. Were they engaging and cool? Did you have something in common? It’s okay to reach out to hang out again.
Honestly, they might want to be friends, too, but are in the same boat of adulthood uncertainty regarding how to make that happen.
If you’re really tentative, there is safety in numbers; invite a mutual friend and the three of you can get together.
Go to networking events in your career field
The people you'll meet at these events will already have something in common with you, so that’s a great start!
I’m terrible at going to networking events to network, but I always manage to find one good friend. We usually bond over a general disinterest in schmoozing, while admiring the people who can.
Volunteer with an organization
The people you meet while doing community service will have some of the same values that brought you to that specific association. Sharing those kinds of fundamentals can be the building blocks of a strong friendship.
You may be spending long hours together, working hand-in-hand to complete a given task. The teamwork alone is a bonding experience.
Ultimately, making new friends may not always be easy. You can’t expect everyone to immediately like you or hold your hand as you skip into the sunset. You can expect to get better at it the more you try.
Putting yourself out there may feel like a risk, but it comes with the greatest of rewards. Friends are the family you get to choose. Be your own friend and situate yourself so you can find them.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It