Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meet Up!

Moving to a new city is exciting and adventurous, but meeting friends in that new city can be a daunting task! Alex Williams wrote a great story for the New York Times called "Why is Hard to Make Friends Over 30?". The basic principle is that as we get older, our priorities change. In college, life is one big party and you meet new people frequently. As you approach your 30s, you begin to focus more on your career and home life. In other words: it gets harder to make friends as you age, especially if you're starting over in a new place!

I've been growing my social network here in Austin, and here are a few tips:
  • Make new friends, but keep the old. We used to sing a song like this in Girl Scouts, but it's true! Geographical proximity is not the most important factor in a friendship. Keep in touch with your old friends- it's exciting to hear a good friend's voice and be able to talk freely with someone who knows you well. 
  • Stay active. You're not going to meet new people when you're sitting at home catching up on your favorite TV show. Join a book club (check out options on Meetup.com), take a dance class, or volunteer your time doing something you love. The more you're out and about, the more likely it is that you'll run into your next BFF. 
  • Enjoy your own company. It might seem crazy, but sitting in a bar alone and striking up a conversation with the bartender or the person next to you can be fun and fulfilling! Get out there and be independent. 
  • Speak up. This is a hard one, but if you've met someone that might be a potential new friend, ask for their number or make plans to get together. It's a little bit like asking someone on a date, and the worst they could say is "no." If you've been having a great conversation, enjoying the same activity (like yoga, or volunteering at the local dog shelter), and you think she'd be fun to gossip with over drinks, then just say so! 
  • Make time. Great friendships take time to cultivate, so don't expect that you'll have a giant social circle overnight. When you've found a few people that you connect with, make time to hang out and get to know them more. If they invite you to do something, say "yes"! I learned early on in my adult life that if you decline an invitation a few times (even if you are legitimately busy), people stop inviting you, so make time. 
  • Be choosy. You might make plans to hang out with someone new, but then discover that you don't really enjoy their company. That's OK! Just because you're new in town doesn't mean that you have to be desperate. Perhaps they can remain an acquaintance in your network, but your time is valuable, so choose to spend it with people that make you happy. 
Once you've met a few people, you'll begin making friends of friends and your network will grow. Be patient and have fun enjoying your new surroundings along the way!

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