Life is hard. Grown-up life is even harder. There are jobs to go to, bills and taxes to pay, and don’t even get me started on all the laundry. But one of the hardest things to do as an adult is make friends.
The friends I made in college are ones that I will treasure for the rest of my life. There are so many memories of late night study parties and taco runs, road trips, shopping sprees, coffee dates, all-nighters spent talking, stupid home videos, selfies, and days wishing school wouldn’t be over quite so soon. Now most of my friends are spread out across the world (as far away as China even!) and while Skype is great, it isn’t the same.
When we first moved back to Columbia in September, I was worried that most of my friends had left. I knew a couple people from college who had stayed in the area, but we had never been super close, and I felt really lonely for a long time. I realized that it’s really hard to make friends as an adult. The whole “Hey want to share my crayons?” might have worked in elementary school, but I think if I walked up to a stranger asking the same question, I’d get weird looks.
So really, this post is less of a Step by Step checklist, and more of a letter to myself back in September. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure some of this out. So here goes…
I know you’re lonely. I’m sorry. Being lonely sucks. You’re afraid you won’t connect with people well or that you’re too weird for people to actually want to be friends with you. I’m writing this letter to you to give you some tips moving forward, starting with the most important thing to remember through this un-fun and scary process: Don’t be afraid. But we’ll come back to that in a second.
First, the most obvious place to make friends is your work place. You’re all stuck in the same building, or area of space, for hours on end, so why wouldn’t you find something to talk about together? You’re going to meet a girl named Michelle at work very soon, and I promise you’re going to become fast friends. Ask more of your co-workers out for coffee. Somewhere far far far away from the store. Believe me, you both need the break from work.
Second, also an obvious one, reach out to the people you knew from college. Don’t give the excuse that you aren’t super close. That’s a dumb excuse. They need new friends too. Go to dinner with Kayla and Michael (and make it a regular thing), go shopping with Christa, and do movie nights with Sydney. They’re already your friends, invest in them.
Third, talk to the people in your nerd group. Play more games at firefly, connect with D&D squads near you, find fellow writers through MeetUp, and for heaven’s sake, bring food. People love food. They’ll be less likely to blow you off if you become known as the girl who always has food.
Be genuine. Be honest. Life is way short not to be. Do you know them well? No? Be honest anyways. Don’t be afraid to be real with total strangers. Be kind to whoever you pass. You never know when you’ll see them again. And most importantly, beyond everything else you could possibly do to make friends: Don’t be afraid. Fear of being rejected and lonely feeds into self sufficiency. When you decide to be self sufficient, you’re going to think you can do everything on your own. You against the world. But a one person team gets lonely real fast, and I know you were made to be surrounded by people. You’re literally going to die if you don’t get some extroverted time. Just don’t let your fear of looking stupid stop you from reaching out. And yeah, you’re going to look stupid sometimes. You’re going to find yourself in conversations where you have no idea what the other person is talking about. And that’s ok. Ask question, learn. Spend less time talking and more time listening. I promise it’ll work itself out in the end.
Now go on out there with your brownies and cupcakes and rice crispy treats and make friends. I believe in you. And if you ever find yourself getting discouraged, come talk to me again. I’ll be right here waiting.
With much love, and dearest affection for a younger self, Best of Luck.