It’s that time of year. Change is in the air. Your wall is starting fill with “Save the Date” cards. Your Facebook is crowded with engagement photos.
And now, your lease is up. Your turn to shock social media.
So, why not move to a new city?
It seems like everyone is making these game-time decisions: New York to San Francisco. Grad school in London. Backpacking in Rio.
Our world has become so interconnected, moving Away may not even feel that far (plus, you can’t avoid the Wedding invites — they will always find you).
Although I’ve lived in the same city for the past 6 years (thanks for making me feel old NYU), I’ve solicited some advice from my newly-minted friends. Ones who have went out on a limb, and switched cities.
But hey, I’m not such a noob myself. I spent nearly 4 months backpacking alone through Australia & New Zealand — so I had to learn how to constantly make new friends — every time I went to a new hostel.
It sounds much easier than it is. Most of us have barely changed up our morning cereal routine in a decade, let alone entered a completely new place. A new job. A new apartment. A new social circle.
This guide is a step-by-step manual on How to Make Friends in a Brand New Place — for Old Farts like Us.
Meeting new people isn’t magic.
When you put yourself out there, You are Vulnerable. You are exposed. You are alone.
But, You also have power.
Just remember, whenever you’re feeling like that lost kid at lunch; when you expose yourself to a new crowd, people’s natural tendency is help you.
Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist told Fast Company in an interview: “Put yourself in situations in which you and potential friends will feel vulnerable, because such situations make people feel needy and provide occasions for other people to provide comfort or support.”
So, put yourself out there.
Do something that you never would have before. You already made the real change — moving to a new, big city or quitting your job. This part is cake.
If anything, you can always join Zog Sports, right?
Being Curious & asking questions creates a rainbow of feeeeeelings.
That’s the scary part (we know).
So, let’s take it one step at a time: Instead of thinking about that daunting feeling creeping up when you’re in a sea of new faces — start with a question.
We’re all waiting for others to speak first, or approach us. We do a little dance of smile & wave & awkward eye glances.
Just speak up.
Does someone in your office that always wear the coolest outfits? Ask where they get it. Is someone always talking about this Cool New Bar they went to? Ask which one they’re going to next.
Start simple. Be a human.
We all just want a little acknowledgement.
The last solo trip I took was to the small island in Belize called Caye Caulker. I wanted to use it as a time to recharge, and reflect during a hectic time in my life.
I wanted to be alone — but not that alone.
So, I had to find a way to make friends. I remember going down to the little beach that all the cool backpackers congregated around. It seemed like everyone had already had their clique of friends. I was the lonely kid, looking for a lunch table.
Even though as I looked across the beach for a place to lay my towel I felt embarrassed & lonely — I pushed those thoughts away. I sat down next to a fun looking group, and asked where they were from.
I started with a question.
Of course, they answered willingly — interested to have a Brand New Person join their little group. So now, I was part of them. And, it didn’t seem so scary anymore.
Find that courage, and Be Curious. Who do you think is interesting? Ask them about it.
And, Get some Hobbies
Drinking does not count. Beer Olympics are so college anyway.
What are activities that you’ve always been meaning to try?
Wine club, book club, mentoring club. These are groups of like-minded people who, similar to you, also have other interests besides this random club their friends made them join. Clubs are just a starting point for friendships.
And, trust Us, these people will make you better.
They will make you think.
If you’re not into that intellectual type of shit, what about activities you loved growing up, and kind of miss doing now?
Playing sports? Playing music? These are activities you’re already good at — and feel pretty nostalgic. You found time for clubs in high school, so why can’t you stop the Netflix binge and get out of your apartment?
Remember — you only have 5% of personal time.
Make that 5% worth living.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ― C.S. Lewis
If you enjoyed this — check out my blog, On Adulting, for more observations about this weird time as a 20-something. And feel free to make the little heart green 🙂
Tell Us — How do you make friends? Share and share!