I've always been pretty lucky when it comes to being surrounded by a strong friend group. No matter where I've lived, I always had that connection. Honestly, in my younger years it was easy. I was always in environments that fostered new friendships. Now that I've experienced moving to a new place as an adult, I can tell you from experience things change.
Finding new friends when you are 30 and single is a lot like dating. Taking that leap and asking someone if they want to hang out or if you can get their contact information is almost always nerve-racking and awkward. Most of the time you are trying to read their body language; you are gauging their reactions during your conversation to see if they are open to a new friendship. If you feel good about it, you then have to either pray they suggest a hang out or you have to bite the bullet, ask them, and risk what most of us fear, rejection.
Credit Image: TheKlonk on Flickr
Whether it's new friendships or new relationships, there are a handful of recognizable brush-offs. As soon as you get them, you know you are never going to see that person again. When that happens, no matter how self-assured you are, you get that tinge of discomfort. In a matter of seconds your flesh starts questioning not being good enough, cool enough, creative enough, funny enough, etc. This is a natural response -- everyone wants to be accepted and loved. When that isn't the reaction, we naturally want to reflect on why. The important thing is to not dwell on it. When faced with the brush-off, put a smile on your face and go along with whatever polite non-committal response they are giving you. Don't try to force it.
YOU, GOTTA BE YOU
I look at rejection like this: We can't overcurate ourselves. At this point in life, we should know who we are and the type of people we want around us. Yes, there will always be things for us to work on and improve, but if someone doesn't like you as you are, they aren't your ideal friend candidate. It's that simple, and it is OK. You aren't going to be friends with everyone. It's important to recognize the truth in the rejection: If that person doesn't enjoy being around you, than that friendship definitely won't bring joy to your life. So shake it off, scan the room and move on.
WALK IN CONFIDENCE & POSITIVITY
Confidence is attractive. The more sure of yourself you are, the more people want to be around you. People tend to gravitate towards what they want reflected in their own life. So, I encourage you to get into the habit of graciously speaking your mind, making eye contact and walking tall. Positive people also attract others. Not many people want to spend their precious free time with a debbie downer or a drama queen. When you're in your 30s, your free time is valuable... spending it listening to someone cry or whine is not what anyone wants. The vast majority of people want to surround themselves with others who are able to laugh at life and see the good in it. Obviously, we all experience bad times... but you aren't going to walk up to a stranger and talk to them about it. At least I hope you aren't.
FINDING OTHERS LIKE YOU
One of the biggest hurdles you have to overcome is actually knowing where to meet new people. This may sounds silly, but it's true. If you have just moved to a new city and you aren't comfortable in the bar or club scene, it can be quite difficult to casually run into other singles. Not only do you have to find the socializing opportunities, but you have to be willing to walk into them alone. Since the whole point of going to these social functions is to make new friends, hopefully you won't be alone long. But the initial aloneness can be quite scary. If this is you, here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling.
- Meetup.com: This site is full of groups you can join. Those groups host daily, weekly and monthly outings for everything from biking to crafting, traveling, cooking, etc. The list goes on and on. I am signed up on this site. It is definitely full of lots of opportunities. I just have to get over what I mentioned earlier, the initial scary going into it aloneness.
- Sign Up for Groupon and LivingSocial and keep your eyes peeled for deals on activities and classes that interest you. If you attend these things, you will be surrounded by people with similar interests and that is always a good foot to start on.
- Volunteer, find an organization you can get behind and see how you can help. There, you will find passionate people who enjoy giving back and making a difference. Two qualities we should all want in our friends.
- Get tied into a church. Honestly, every other time I've moved, this has been a key one for me. Finding a new church is often like finding a built-in friend group. Most of the people will be excited you are there and eager to learn more about you and befriend you. Churches often have small groups you can join, sports teams, clubs, etc. Since I moved to Florida as part of a church plant, this wasn't an avenue that worked for me this time.
- Hit the dog park. This may be a funny one, but dog parks are really social. The animals are playing together, and you get to talking with all of the other owners. I also find that people that take their dogs to dog parks are usually pretty friendly. There is a camaraderie amongst dog-parents. Haha. Sadly, I don't have a dog. However, I've been to the park when I've dog sat and I've experienced the socializing... so I know there is potential there.
DON'T BE AFRAID OF AWKWARD
Putting yourself out there is scary, but it is also exciting. The best thing you can do is embrace the awkwardness and accept that it is going to be there. Once you do, it really won't be a big deal and you'll recognize in the scheme of things that it doesn't usually last that long. Once you've overcome the biggest hurdle of finding people to meet and you've harnessed the awkwardness, you really just have to be open, be yourself and ask a few genuine questions. Once you do, be ready to react to their response (good or bad) in a graceful way. Don't get discouraged; you're bound to meet people who are as cool as you.
I also just want to say, I know that there are a number of people out there who don't struggle with making new friends. They have been gifted with the social butterfly gene and they thrive in all social settings. You my lovely are a rare and precious gem... please keep an eye out for us wallflowers. When you see us taking the leap, it would be super awesome if you took us under your wing.
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