There are plenty of things I wasn’t exactly prepared for when it came to facing life after college: trying to understand how a 401K actually works, learning health/auto insurance lingo, and the devastatingly crushing blow you feel when you realize just how terrible it is to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars toward student loans each month.
But one of the most surprising things I’ve found since I started navigating this wonderful postgrad life is how hard it can be to make new friends now. Back in college, and throughout your whole childhood for that matter, you could meet a friend a thousand different ways: through your classes, clubs and organizations, at a tailgate, etc. But once the four-year party is over, you graduate and move back to your hometowns or scatter throughout the country in pursuit of a big-boy/girl job.
I myself moved all the way from Austin, Texas to Albany, New York without knowing anyone. That’s when I realized just how easy I had it in college. In the postgrad world, the only “easy” way to make friends is by meeting coworkers. And if your new place of employment doesn’t provide you with coworkers you could see yourself hanging out with outside of work, well…you’re screwed.
Once you realize you’re now not only increasingly poor but also completely friendless, you have to dive out there and try to find some other fish in the sea who will be your new best friend.
That’s when you realize that you are now going through the “Five Phases of Dating,” but for friends:
1. You start hoping for a “meet-cute” situation.
Such imaginings include you bumping into someone at the bookstore or coffee shop, realizing you have the same book in your hands and looking up with lingering eye contact as you think in your head, “This could be it. This could be the one!”
2. Your parents try to set you up.
“My friend Marcia’s husband has a sister whose son’s girlfriend is your age. Do you want me to get her number for you?”
3. You start “friend-flirting” with anyone who even remotely look like they could be cool.
Things can get awkward very quickly in this scenario. You must learn to toe the line between giving a girl a compliment on her outfit, and staring at her with the crazy eyes, promptly making her think you are hitting on her.
4. You begin asking your old friends, “Where do you even meet people nowadays?”
And somehow, even when you’re only talking about finding a new friend, the answer is still “online.”
5. You begin to lose hope and start pondering how many cats you could adopt before you won’t be lonely anymore.
Three? Five? Maybe there are some local cat-lady groups who organize playdates…and you could meet friends there, right? Problem solved.
Good luck out there, kids. Making new friends after college can be rough, but hey, it always happens when you least expect it, right?