I’m in my early twenties and will be living on my own for the first time ever. I’m actually really scared. I’m more worried that my introverted tendencies will be the worst they’ve ever been and I’ll basically Netflix and chill by myself all day. Does anyone have any advice on how to make friends? I already have a job there and being friends with coworkers isn’t an option. It’s a more rural area so I’m not sure if there’s a social scene to be apart of?
Making friends is never super easy (unless you’re a friendly, cute little kid who can talk to anyone), but it’s especially difficult as you get older. By your early 20s, most people are already in established friend groups, and they’re often so busy with other things that they don’t always have time to seek out new friends. That said, it’s not impossible to make new friends when you’re in your 20s! You just have to be willing to be a little more creative, a lot more outgoing, and a lot more forward. I feel you on the introvert issue, but as you already seem to know, staying home to binge watch TV isn’t going to help you meet anyone – it’s imperative to get out of your comfort zone and try to reach out to others.
Where can you do this? Well, to be honest, work is usually your best bet. Co-workers make relatively easy friends because you already see each other all the time, and you have a built-in conversation starter. But if that’s not possible, don’t freak out – there are other places you can meet people. Some suggestions:
1. Join a gym. Gyms can be a tricky place to meet people if you just go in, hit the elliptical, and leave. But if you get a little more social there, you just might meet a new friend. Join a gym that has workout classes and start to going to one or two of them every single week. If it’s a class like yoga, pilates, Zumba, or something like that, you’re bound to find other people who are always there as well. Sit/stand near them, make conversation when possible, and if you guys seem to vibe, maybe one time you can ask if they want to grab a smoothie or something after the class. You can also try joining a small group personal trainer situation, which is usually about six to seven people working together on a regular basis.
2. Find hobby groups in your area. Almost all towns or cities offer little clubs and groups for adults, like book clubs or things like that – you just have to search for them. Look on Facebook and google your area to look stuff up. If there’s nothing in your town, look for something in a town or city nearby. Attending a group like this is almost like seeing people in classes – it’s easier to chat and make plans to hang out later on.
3. Download an app. Dating apps aren’t the only way to meet people – there are plenty of apps that are similar to things like Tinder, but they’re strictly for making friends rather than romantic relationships. Popular ones include Tinder Social and Bumble BFF. These allow you to look through potential matches, like you would on a dating app, and then message and maybe meet up to have a “friend date.” It might feel a little awkward at first, because it’s not an organic way of meeting people, but who knows? It could really work out!
4. Get outside! Find a spot you like and make it *your* spot – and make sure it’s pretty public. It could be a coffee shop where you sit and have a cup of coffee a few times a week, a bar where you get a drink a few nights a week, a park where you read in the same area sometimes, a restaurant where you sit and eat dinner once a week… anything like that. Once you become a regular, other regulars will begin to notice you and might strike up conversation, or vice versa. The employees might also start getting to know you and chatting with you. From there, you can see if you want to hang with anyone further and ask.
5. Ask someone for help. I know you said being friends with co-workers isn’t an option, but is there someone you work with who might be able to introduce you to people? Maybe you could say you’re new to the area and you’re looking to meet some friends, and they could help “set you up.” Don’t feel weird about it – people understand the struggle.
The most important piece of advice? Be outgoing and be willing to talk to people and make a move to say hi. Most people won’t be weirded out by a friendly stranger, and you’d be surprised at how many other young adults are in the same position as you. Just put yourself out there, and you’ll find a friend. It might take a while, but it’ll happen!
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org