When I was very young, my first lesson in friendship came from my mom. She taught me that to make friends all you needed to do was say, “Hi, my name’s Meghan. Do you want to play with me? Do you want to be friends?”
And you know what–It worked! (Most of the time)
But I find that as we get older, we start to realize that in order to make friends you have to be just a little more subtle… 😉
I’m not saying friendship is always easy as a kid–relationships can be elusive and hard to figure out for lots of reasons, especially for kids. Still, knowing what I know now, it can be considerably easier when you have built-in reasons to be around people such as: school classes, clubs, band, sports, and general extra curriculars.
I read somewhere once that proximity and frequency are two things that can predict friendship and romantic interests. I’d have to re-research for a source on that… But even without a source, I know this to be true from plain experience and common sense–the more time you spend around someone, the more likely you are to develop a friendship, etc.
What I’ve found to be difficult is that as we get older, there are less readily-available outlets to experience these built-in reasons to be around people with any frequency. In college, we still have classes (usually in-major courses can allow for greater frequency), we live in dorms, we have opportunities for on-campus student programs, we can join clubs, or sports teams.
Even in the fresh post-college world, I’ve had experience finding opportunities with on-campus clubs that are open to the public, or ones who don’t mind you tagging along with friends still in the club.
And sure, after college there’s always the college-friends or long-time friends you keep in touch with, and of course co-workers once you enter the working-world.
But I’m finding that pretty close to that 25-year-old mark, college aged kids (and things geared towards college aged kids) just don’t seem to fit your lifestyle anymore. College-friends move away for jobs. Maybe you’re the one who moves away for a job. Maybe you discover that outside of shared school experiences and the party scene, you don’t share that much in common with those friends anymore.
I’m too mature for these shenanigans, damn it!
Or so you tell yourself.
Okay, So I’m Over 25… What Now?
Friendships are tricky. They require a lot of time and energy and reciprocated friendly feelings to make them work. Sometimes it’s almost like the emotional work of a romantic relationship with none of the *ahem* other bonuses.
In my own post-25, post-college, now-workforce life, I’ve found that my most rewarding relationships are the ones that I continue to invest and re-invest in. I invest time, emotional availability, caring, and love (among other things).
None of this is bad–while it takes time and emotion out of me, in return I also get time and emotion back. I get people who I like to spend time around and who seem to like to spend time around me, too. I get to feel connected to others in a way that is meaningful to me.
Quality over quantity!
The masses exclaimed.
In this period of my life, I’ve found myself spending more time investing deeper in already formed connections rather than seeking out new connections. I’ve found myself re-defining what “friendship” means, and re-considering what I expect to get out of someone I’d introduce to you as “My Friend so-and-so” depending on the context of our relationship.
I’ve also found that friendships seem to become more categorized:
- My work friends
- My training/triathlon friends
- My “regular” friends
- My friends’ friends
- The good-for-the-time-being temporary friends
- The someone I met a few times and we’re nice to each other friends
- The we’re always in the elevator at the same time so I guess now we’re friends friends…
Not to say that friendships can’t still be fluid, or overlap categories, but I think that what I expect to experience with each group of people varies based on the category. As does what level of emotional investment I hope to invest or have returned.
Sometimes, you just really hit it off with people, and so work friends can become regular friends, or friends’ friends can become better friends. But sometimes, you know you’re only in one place for a short bit of time and so good-for-now friends are just that.
But here’s where it gets tricky. What do you do when you meet someone you think you want to be friends with outside of work or training or otherwise being somewhat acquainted?
I mean, you can always take a chance and be bold:
- “I just really want to be friends”
- “I’m trying to make new friends”
- “Want to grab a drink sometime as friends?”
- “I’m happy we’re friends… we are friends, right?”
- “Friends, friends, friends, friends, friends, friends, FRIENDS!”
Not gonna lie, as an adult, I’ve said these things to people before. And a lot of the time, (I think) it’s well received. I mean, full disclosure… sometimes I have this reputation of being kinda weird and doing kinda weird things, so it’s possible that my could-be-odd comments are just chalked up to “another weird thing Meghan says.” And, generally when I’ve said these things, I’ve already known the person in some prior capacity.
I think in general, when you say things genuinely, and you don’t really care the response you get–you’ll find you get more pleasant responses than not. And if it’s not a pleasant response then, I mean, is that really someone you want to be friends with? 🙂
What About Meeting New People? How do you find the friends?!
Yeah, meeting new people is hard!
I think I’m moving a little bit into the phase of wanting to meet new people again. Having physically moved, and feeling like I’m in a stable slice of life where I’m going to be in one spot for awhile, it’s all making me think that meeting new friends in the area will be a good thing.
*But where do you look for the friends when you’re new to town?
*How do you get to know that cool-neighbor couple you just met?
*What excuse can you find to knock on their door and by the end of the conversation somehow end up inviting them to BBQ with you?
All great questions! I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a lot of experience in moving new places and trying to figure out how the heck to meet people.
In my past adult-life-so-far, I’ve actually struggled a lot with figuring out how to make friends, and how to find social outlets to feel connected to others in the ways I wanted. I like to think I’m getting better. And this is still not perfect for me by any means, but I try to learn from those experiences and use them in ways that can be beneficial to my current. and future. adult-life.
I’m a social human, after all…
So what works?
I’ve found that getting up the courage to be straightforward sometimes works, looking for activities in the area that interest you where other people with that interest might also go sometimes works, frequenting the same spaces for long enough and being brave enough to talk to other people sometimes works, saying an enthusiastic “yes!” to EVERYTHING people invite you to sometimes works, saying any of those previously mentioned bold statements sometimes works, finding excuses to knock on neighbors’ doors and invite them to BBQs (I’m hoping will work).
I don’t know! Nothing is ‘tried and true’ when it comes to meeting people and making friends.
Sometimes you’re going to meet people you never want to meet again. Sometimes you’re going to meet someone really awesome only to find out they’re moving to Cambodia or Iceland next week. But on the flip-side, I have to hope that you’ll also find cool people who are worth knowing, and think you are, too.
On My Current Adventures in Friendship and Meeting People:
- I found a running club in my new city
- I found a writing group I might check out
- Jen and I went to a block party in our neighborhood
- I’ll eventually find a reason to invite people from work who also live in this area to hang out with us
- I’m continuing to try and invest time in my current-standing relationships
- I downloaded Pokemon Go! Not entirely clear on it but.. that makes friends somehow, right?
Anyway, my point is that I’m trying, and also that making friends in a post 25-year-old-life can be totally weird sometimes. But I’m a social person and I like making connections with people that are deeper than surface level. I think we all need various friends and acquaintances in different settings to help us through this crazy world. And moving to a new city seems like a good enough reason to try to meet some more of them.
So… if you’re reading this and you’re also looking for friends or want to get to know me/Jen better–let’s find an excuse to make that happen!