We’ve all been there–a new city, a recent break-up, or possibly just a different outlook on life. Whatever the reason might be, making new friends is a scary yet enticing journey. Don’t lie to yourself, many of us have Googled “how to make friends after college.” The results are all the same, and recommend you join a gym, attend book club, try out a new coffee shop. What Google doesn’t tell you is how (and why) this doesn’t always work, so let me give you five simple suggestions of how to put yourself out there.
Don’t expect it to be easy.
Unlike in college or continuing education classes, you are not thrown into a group where everyone is focused on one goal and doing it the same way. You find a best friend by hating your professor or making fun of the sorority sister who still wears scrunchies. This is real life people. We are all doing different things and doing them our own way. Jennie in the cubicle next to you probably already has plans for happy hour and Fred in your spin class barely grunts when you ask how he is doing during the 30-minute break. Taking offense will only make you feel like less of a person.
Go outside of your comfort zone.
Just because you found a new church, it doesn’t mean the girls the next pew over know you need a workout partner. Unless you have on a shirt that says “Hi, I need friends,” they probably noticed your designer bag then looked right past you. You would do the same thing. So grow a pair, wait until the sermon is over, and go ask if they are members of the church gym. Tell them you are new and ask their opinion about something significant. Most people are happy to voice their opinions, and who knows, you might just find a Sunday dinner partner. If they just roll their eyes at you, realize it wasn’t meant to be and try again somewhere else.
Know that not everyone you meet is meant to be your best friend.
You get to choose who you spend your time with now. It no longer has to be your lab partner who you put up with so you could ace your final, and you don’t have to endure sappy movies with the girls who grew up next door to your roommate. You can choose who you want to discuss Sean White’s failures on the slopes with, and if you disagree with his or her opinion, you can choose to never ask it again. Do not take this lightly. Search for the things you enjoy, and find people around you who enjoy them as well. Taking up wall climbing to spend time with your boss’s son is no good if you have acrophobia. Besides, you probably won’t have much to talk about, and he’ll just make fun of you to his dad as he recounts that anxiety attack you had.
Be open to less boundaries.
Never judge a book by its cover. Seriously. The guy who with the red beard who sits three tables down from you at lunch may be the funniest man you have ever met. The bartender at your local watering hole might have just finished the same novel your mom bought you for Christmas last year. Ask questions, stray away from initial judgments, and take time to learn about those who aren’t on your radar.
Be content with yourself.
This is the most important factor when it comes to meeting new people. As with dating, you can’t expect to build friendships when you don’t even know yourself. Not sure what your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt is? Go to the damn fro yo shop alone, try them out, and find your niche. Then discuss how the gummy bears taste like they’ve been sitting in your grandma’s cabinet for four years with the person next to you in line. No one wants a friend who cannot voice her thoughts because she has no clue of her own opinions. Be independent and find what makes you tick, what makes you click, and what makes you happy. You will eventually find people to fill your circle, and you’ll forget about the time you stayed home for seven weekends straight watching Netflix by yourself.