I’ve never been the best at making friends, even as a kid or college student when I was around people all the time and ran into people spontaneously and regularly. I was always the perosn on the fringe of several friend groups, the person who knew almost everyone but had few true friends, people I would hang out with regularly outside of school and go spend the night with and invite to birthday parties. I had very few of those friends before high school, and most of my high school friends were older than me. No wonder I started taking college classes early.
After high school and college, the spontaneous and regular interactions happen far less often. Unless you’re in some kind of program that keeps its communities in tight-knit groups, making friends after school is a challenge.
I’m not alone in feeling this way, something I discovered when asking Twitter and Facebook how to make friends as an adult. One of the most popular responses (even though I explicitly asked for places outside of work — after all, I work remotely and don’t have many coworkers to speak of) was through work. This doesn’t surprise me. It’s a similar situation to being in school: you’re around a lot of the same people for eight hours a day with opportunities to chat and get to know each other.
Some of the other responses, for the curious:
- Meetups for whatever you’re interested in. Some of the things suggested to me include board game groups, writing groups, book clubs, runs coordinated by running stores… and the list goes on.
- NaNoWriMo events (so basically how I’ve met almost every current friend of mine)
- Church. Doesn’t work so well for me since I’m not religious, but it definitely fits the regular interaction bill for those who are.
- Volunteering. I enjoy volunteering at events, mostly because it means people can approach me instead of the other way around. And I can usually give them answers!
- Going to concerts and other performances. I’ve seen some of the same people at shows and am still in touch with a few show folks.
- Community theatre and improv. I’ve been wanting to take an improv class for awhile. This may have to happen.
One thing I’m surprised weren’t mentioned, not even once: conventions and conferences. I suppose this falls under meetups, but in my experience conventions are a different beast from a regular one-evening meetup.
My problem isn’t with meeting people. Once I convince myself to get dressed and leave the house (a challenge during the winter months like now) I can go to meetups and board game groups and NaNoWriMo events and volunteer at shindigs all I want. I can make casual conversation and only come off as a partial weirdo.
My problem is with reaching out to those people and making other plans and starting to extend our friendship. Heck, I still find it hard to initiate plans with existing friends, and I’ve already gone through the effort to become good frinds with them. This is more anxiety at work than anything else in situations like these.
So once I’ve met those people… then what?