There are a lot of things about being an adult that are challenging. This includes managing your finances and forcing yourself to get out of bed and go to work even when you’re tired. I think we’re all okay admitting that these things are hard, though, because who likes real pants and saving money anyway? But there’s another thing about being an adult that’s tricky yet less commonly discussed: making friends.
I will be the first to admit that making friends as a grown-up is HARD.
When you’re younger, you form friendships without even thinking about it. You’ve got the people in your class or on your soccer team. Later on it’s the people in your dorm or your sorority. Then all of a sudden you become a “real person” and move to a new city for a job. You’re working long hours. You’re trying to build connections with other people who are doing the same. Add in relationships, traveling for work, and other factors and it gets even more complex.
I recently took a highly scientific Twitter poll about the challenge of making friends as an adult. While I was asking mostly about meeting people in Charlotte, I think the results are fairly universal. Of the people polled, 42 percent said making friends as an adult was hard, 25 percent said it was easy, and 33 percent said it was somewhere in between.
While I’m certainly no expert in the friend-making process, here are some tips I’ve found to be helpful if you’re wondering how to up your game:
- Put yourself out there and don’t be embarrassed: It can feel awkward to really put yourself out there when you go the first few decades of your life just stacking up friends without even thinking about it. However when you want to meet new people as an adult, you have to go above and beyond. Go to networking events. Start conversations on Twitter. Use Meetup, which is how I met a lot of my friends in Charlotte. Ask friends if they have anyone they could connect you with in your city. Don’t be embarrassed about it either. You’re not a freak of the week because you’re looking to expand your network.
- Follow up: If you have a great conversation with someone at an event and you swap numbers, make it a point to actually set plans. If you go out to lunch with someone and have fun, pick a time to do it again. Invite that person to an event that looks fun. Send a text or a tweet to stay in touch. It’s easy to have one great conversation or friend date and then let that promising would-be friendship fall by the wayside.
- Realize that it takes time: When you move to a new city, it takes time to find your “people.” When I first arrived in Charlotte I met a lot of people quickly, but over time I found that many of those friends and I didn’t actually have much in common besides the fact that we were new. Slowly I’ve met different friends who I share much more in common with, but have also hung on to a few friends that I met right at the beginning of my time here with whom I still feel connected.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people: It’s easy to get on Instagram and see people out in huge groups, then feel like a loser when you don’t have plans that night. Remember that everyone is in different stages of the friend-making process. Also, those people have nights where they have nothing going on too they just don’t post about it on social media. If you’re working on developing connections, be proud of yourself. You’ll get there.
What strategies have you used to develop friendships as an adult? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!