Without the social constructs of school, it becomes far more difficult to meet people our age and who share common interests, values, and passions. So, here are my tips for finding friends after college.
- Find Communities
Communities are all around us. They’re at church, at the gym, in recreational sports leagues, on the golf course, at community theaters, at book clubs, and darn near everywhere else you can look. If you love doing something, chances are a lot of other people enjoy doing it too. I find this to be a great way to build relationships — especially for those who aren’t naturally extroverted. Communities provide the common ground of shared interest. Your new friendships will begin over shared interests or passions, and morph into deeper friendships over time.
- Explore Your Passions
The years after college are a great time to try that thing you’ve always wanted to try. Are you passionate about music? Learn an instrument. Want to learn a foreign language? Take a class. Check out your local community college for different classes taught by your neighbors in the community. Often, community colleges provide “continuing education” opportunities open to the entire community. These can be a great place to meet new people, learn something new, and find friends. Similar to finding communities, exploring your passions provides a common ground for shared interests making it easier to get to know people in a social setting.
- Take Risks — Put Yourself Out There
Now, by no means do I mean walk up to every stranger you see and introduce yourself in attempts to strike up a conversation. People have places to be and the weird guy running up to them isn’t what they allotted time for in their day. That said, we grow by putting ourselves out there. The most personal growth we have is right outside our comfort zone. So, if you come across people you’d like to get to know, put yourself out there and strike up a conversation when appropriate. It’s OK to admit to people that you’re new and don’t know anyone. It takes guts to find communities and explore our passions in social settings. It takes guts to put ourselves out there. We fear rejection. Just remember to get your mindset right — if you crash and burn, you’ll likely never see any of those people again. So, who cares?
- Take Initiative With Those Around You
Is there someone at work, or in your life that you’d like to get to know more? Someone you admire and want to be more like? Maybe it’s a colleague at work who seems to be crushing it in all aspects of life, or someone at the gym who literally seems to be everyone’s friend. Take initiative and talk to people. I’ve found asking questions will typically break the ice. Hey, I love what you did on that project. What software did you use? Or, Hey, is that book any good? I’ve been looking for a new one to read. (You know, after you finish this one). Take initiative with people in your sphere who you’d like to get to know better. Invite them out for drinks after work, or invite a group of people from the new “community” you’ve found over for dinner. They may not always be able to make it, but people are always thankful you made the effort.
- Be Patient
This is key. It takes time. You’re not always going to click with the people you meet. If you’re genuine and socially normal (more on that later) and you’re not finding friends quickly, that’s ok! Be patient with the process, and use your free time to improve yourself. Listen to podcasts, read more, get outside, and go work out. You’re tribe will find you soon enough, especially when you’re putting yourself in places to be found.
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