Making friends the adult way can be really difficult. When you’re in college, making friends is simple. You’re automatically thrown into the same new situation as thousands of your peers, which makes connecting easier. Not to mention, the university practically assigns you a new best friend by providing you with a roommate. Even if they do a horrible job with your roommate assignment, which wasn’t my case (Love you, Mary!), you’re still forced to seek out a new one. Therefore, you WILL make friends in college.
Unfortunately, as an adult, none of these things apply. You enter into the workforce alone. Oftentimes, you move to a new city and you’re forced to navigate this world without your friends and family nearby. A lot of the time, your colleagues are older than you and most of them have families. This means no random hangouts and no late night pizza runs. A lot of people already have established friendships or groups of friends, which says to me, “Need Not Apply.” Friendship often takes a backseat in the adult world.
So how do you do it? How does anyone do it? How do you make friends as an adult?
- Do the Things You Love:For me, it was my love of hiking. After graduating with my master’s degree from IU, I moved across the country to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I am not a super athletic person, but I do enjoy being active, AND THIS STATE IS ACTIVE! Once I found a few people at work that also enjoyed hiking, I started inventing ways to invite them to hang out with me. For instance, where I live, there is an incredibly difficult hiking trail called the Manitou Incline where you gain over 2,000 feet in less than one mile hiking up the side of a mountain. Most of locals haven’t even attempted it, but it was the perfect excuse to invite my colleagues out of the office.
My colleague, Amy, and I taking a break up the 2,744 step stair case
- Become a Regular at a Local Spot:Yoga is something that never really interested me before I moved to Colorado, but it’s a pretty common activity here. I found a local bar near my apartment that offers a “Yoga and Beer” class. It’s a great way to stay active, but more importantly, it’s a great way to socialize. During yoga there really isn’t time to talk, but while enjoying a cold beer there is plenty of time. I’ve become a regular there and I feel like it has increased my social life.
- Adopt a Pet:It may sound crazy because you’re actually looking for a human connection, but pets are a wonderful way to do that—especially dogs! I own a miniature dachshund named Winston and when we go for walks, people stop me all the time to talk about him. They always want to share with me how cute they think he is and they’re usually curious about his age because of how small he is compared to other dogs. I’ve actually met a lot of my neighbors this way, which makes running into each other in the hallways of my apartment a lot less awkward.
Also, dog parks—despite the name—are actually full of people! As my dog interacts with other dogs, I’m usually interacting with the owner of those dogs. It’s a great way to meet some really nice acquaintances and usually they frequent the same dog park over and over again.
- Take a Class, Join a Gym, or Connect with an Online Meet-Up Group:I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, it IS incredibly cliché! But don’t let that stop you because it’s also incredibly helpful. The hardest part of making friends is finding something in common and that is practically taken care of for you. Just by being there, you know for certain that you have a common interest. The IU Alumni Association Colorado Chapter was a great avenue for me when I moved here! They have career development, basketball game watch parties, and other random fun activities for IU alumni. Not to mention, when I’m in a room full of these members and I yell, “HOO-HOO-HOO,” I know for certain the response is going to be, “HOOSIERS!” which is music to my ears when I am over 1,000 miles away from home.
- Ask Other Friends for Help:In my situation, it was incredibly difficult because I moved across the country. Luckily, I had a few friends in Denver, but I didn’t know anyone an hour south of Denver. This may sound like a short drive (and it is), but when all your friends work full-time jobs, that makes the commute tricky. Therefore, I reached out and asked for help. I asked them to share any connections that they had here and it really paid off. Obviously, if I get along with my friends, why wouldn’t I get along with the friends of my friends? I’ve met some really great people this way, and I have absolutely no regrets.
Graduating from college is an exciting and nerve-wrecking time. Why complicate that with the difficulties of making friends? Allow yourself to vulnerable and take a chance because it might just pay off. Try a few of these tips, and good luck out there!