Its all so easy when you are a kid. At school we are put in classes with others the same age as us. There are clubs where we can have fun with kids with similar interests. At a park or soft play, all you have to do is walk over to another child and say “Can I play?” or “Do you want to be my friend?” Most of the time the answer is yes.
Fast forward a few years. If you go to college or university, again you are put into a class. There are socials, freshers week and various clubs to join. If you have moved away from home and into the halls or dorms, everyone else is in the same boat. Everyone is new, wants to meet people and is open to making new friends.
But what if you are trying to make friends as an adult? What if you move to a new place or your circumstances change? How do you start over with meeting and getting to know people? It feels so much harder as an adult, especially if you are juggling work, home and family. I have moved to another city twice now. Both times it was for work and I didn’t know anyone except the family I was going to work for. I admit its scary but it is possible to find/make a new social circle and it can also be a lot of fun! Here are my tips.
Don’t be embarrassed
The first time I moved to a new city, I felt a bit embarrassed to be looking for friends. I was worried I would look sad or desperate, like that kid in secondary school who’s socially awkward and doesn’t really fit in. I’ve been there before… But the truth is a lot of people are in the same situation. They’ve moved to a new area, their other friends have coupled up and started having families, they’ve realised their interests have changed etc. This time around I don’t feel embarrassed and neither should you! Putting yourself out there doesn’t make you look sad or desperate, it makes you look brave.
Think about your interests
Did you belong to any clubs when you were at school or university? What did you like doing in your spare time as a kid? Yes we have all grown up since then (in theory!) but thinking about your past interests can help you to discover activities that you would enjoy today. If you were very creative maybe you would enjoy an art class? Maybe you could learn a new skill such as knitting or pottery? If you were active is there a sports team you can join or a gym class you can sign up for? Where there are clubs and classes there are normally other people. If those people have similar interests then you already have something in common.
Find clubs/classes/groups that appeal to you
Following on from the last tip, find an activity or group to join. If you know what you are looking for, search google to see if there’s anything in your area. Local newspapers and notice boards in shops or supermarkets are another good place to find activities local to you. I also had a lot of success with meetup.com. Its free to sign up, you tick the kind of activities you are interested in and enter a search radius, say 10 miles from your postcode. All the groups in that area pop up, you can join any that look interesting and RSVP which meetups you would like to attend. Through this site I have gone to the cinema, had coffee/cake/lunch, gone snowboarding and driven quad bikes and hover crafts! There is something for everyone so why not give it a try?
Yes I know this one feels scary. I have always been shy and when I’m in a situation where I don’t know anyone, my first instinct is to leave or hide at the back and keep to myself. All I can say is the more you put yourself out of your comfort zone, the easier it will get. So when you are doing that art class say hello to the person sat next to you. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible when you attend that meetup group. Smile and be friendly. If it is your first meetup and you were really nervous, say that! Then watch as everyone else nods and starts sharing stories of how scared they were when it was their first time. Trust me, I have seen this happen many times!
Remember that these things can take time. You might hit it off with someone straight away or it could be a bit trial and error until you find the right group for you. Have fun with it and try not to put pressure on yourself to be really social and make tons of friends. Do it at your own pace.
I was inspired to write this post after joining more social groups as part of my Life Balance Project. What are your reasons for making more friends? Let me know in the comments below =)