Why is it so tough to make new friends as an adult?

Three years ago I wrote an entire blog post on the topic of making friends in your 20s but deleted it before it ever saw the light of day. I was so concerned people would think I was the social-equivalent of a skunk, and that I would just repel even more people by sharing my struggle.

Side note: did you know that skunks live as solitary animals other than in the winter when they tolerate the company of other skunks for warmth??? I digress.

The point is, before I finished my degree I was having a hard time widening my circle of friends.

I recall very clearly a conversation I had with my two oldest friends Talula and Jocelyn before I started class at Red River College. I believe I was 20 at the time. The way I saw it, they both had multiple groups of friends they could float between for a good night out. I literally had them, a few nice people I had met in university, and that was about it. I was somewhat jealous, and I expressed my frustration.

No new friends 🙅 // Lots of good beer 🍻 @samanthassamson @micheperron

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Was I weird? No, they assured me. I was just an acquired taste. I’d make friends in college. Sure enough, I met a few people in college I still keep in touch with to this day.

If you’ve ever been scrolling social media and wondered: “Am I the only person ON EARTH who doesn’t have a f*cking posse of people to party with every weekend?” You are not alone. 

 

I am now two full years out from post-secondary education and am FINALLY figuring out how to make new friends. Take it from someone who thought they had the social skills of an animal that shoots stink out of it’s ass, it’s possible.

bambi-skunk-gif-13553-14017-hd-wallpapers.jpg.gif

I thought I’d share some nuggets of wisdom, some questions I’ve asked myself and things I’ve learned about making friends lately, because it seems to be a life theme as I near my 24th birthday.

What kind of barriers are you putting up?

Looking back now, I acknowledge there were certain things that kept me from making new friends at various points in my life.

  • I had next to no confidence, so I always sort of assumed people were just talking to me just to be nice. I questioned their motives which IS SO DUMB.
  • I had a bad habit of avoiding making new friends because I dated a lot (live and learn amiright?).
  • I purposely avoided sports and group type activities.
  • I was really and truly too brutally awkward for words because I second guessed myself so much when I was 18 and 19. I cringe when I think back to some of the stuff I used to say to people I liked and wanted to be friends with.

What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with?

It has been said many times that we are the average of the five people we most associate with. Do you want those people to be responsible, kind, smart adults who are pursuing their passions? Or are you gonna hang on to those people who treat you poorly and wring you dry by encouraging all the behaviour you’re trying desperately to grow out of?

Make the choice, you are 100% in control of this. I’ll lean on my favourite quote here and say “participate in your own life!”

If you say you’re gonna do it, do it!

“Oh Becky, so nice seeing you, we should grab a drink sometime? Next week and this week are like super busy for me but maybe sometime before {insert whatever season it is} is over?”

Becky likely sees right through your wishy-washy bullshit. That kind of non-commital talk makes you look flaky, but for some reason I feel like…we all do it?

Trying this next time I see an old friend! 😂😂😂 @tylermagz

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Why not just say – it was nice meeting/seeing you! *awkward pause* and be on your way. No need to pretend. Also, if you take their card or something and forget to email them then realize later – that’s on you. It’s never too late though….be sincere, apologize and give it a go. If they don’t reply, cut your losses and take the L. At least you tried.

 

Are you actually putting yourself out there?

REJECTION SUCKS. This is not a new concept.

However, if you actually want to make plans with someone, you can’t be afraid to follow up. If they don’t hit you back, no harm done, at least you tried! Don’t be put off just because someone is busy.

You’ll usually be able to tell if the person is making an effort to hang out, or if they are blowing you off because they never really expected you’d follow up in the first place and they are just trying to be nice. Insert upside down smiley face emoji here.

Are you actively trying to meet new people?

This is the part where you’ll need to talk to strangers and maybe make an ass of yourself a bit. Find comfort in the fact that at least you’ll be talking to strangers who like the same stuff you do. For example, I met so many awesome people I really enjoy seeing every week at the bootcamp I go to, which gave me the confidence to start two book clubs.

On the professional development side, I make a point of using social media as a connecting point rather than as a way of catching up on what everyone from high school is up to. I’ve met some really awesome people (who you might see featured on this blog soon enough muahaha) by reaching out to them on Instagram, and asking them to grab a coffee — no shame in the game. I slide into the DMs in a non-creepy way, I swear.

I also am trying to go to more industry networking events (to meet other PR people), and joining things like the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Winnipeg program to meet other likeminded people. I’m very fortunate to have an employer who appreciates that I like doing professional development type stuff, and wants to support me. Never hurts to ask!


3 friends from childhood reunited over cheese & charcuterie 👱‍♀️🥂🧀

A post shared by Raegan Hedley (@raegjules) on

This probably doesn’t need to be said, but if you’re already a person who has a tough time making friends, don’t stress about the number. Besides, come wedding time your wedding party will be smaller and save you some paper. Yaaaaaaas chocolate fountain here I come.

— RJH

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