Moving can be incredibly stressful, both physically and emotionally. Once the adrenaline of novelty wears off, one can be left feeling lonely and isolated. Unlike the days of classrooms and extra curriculars, adulting means stepping out of our comfort zone and making a potentially foreign effort of putting yourself out there. But fear not! Making friends will happen organically if we practice a few simple tips.
1) Be yourself.
This sounds super cliché, but the reality is that most human beings are conditioned to wear a mask as a means to fit in. Ask yourself, who am I, really? What do I like? What do I value? Many of us never really stop and ask ourselves this, and rather just go with the flow of our lives. But now that you’re in a new place, this is the time to start or continue to deepen your sense of self. If we attract what we put out there, ask yourself what you want to put out there! Being yourself can turn out to be much more difficult than it seems, thus we need to look internally and ask ourselves what’s blocking us from authenticity. If you don’t like yourself, you won’t have a ton of success trying to attract people who like you.
2) Get out of your comfort zone.
You likely aren’t going to meet anyone while you’re sitting on your couch watching Netflix. What are some new things you can try? Rock climbing gyms tend to have a sense of community and companionship, as do yoga studios and any other kind of fitness activity club. Have you tried any of these? If not, what’s stopping you?
3) Don’t brush off coworkers.
Do your coworkers hangout outside of work? Don’t be too quick to brush them off as simply coworkers. Human beings spend most of their adult lives at work (if you’re working at least 40 hours a week). These people may become your newfound family. If you’re self-employed, try to go to a co-op workspace or even a coffee shop to do some work. You may be surprised at who else you meet that’s in the same boat!
4) Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
If you run into someone walking their dog, at the park, in a bar, at the gym, or literally anywhere, be honest about where you’re at! It is incredibly empowering and validating to be able to speak to your true experience. If someone asks how you’re doing and you’re actually having a real conversation, let them know that you just moved and need friends, regardless if it feels super awkward saying that! Humans relate to each other’s’ humanity, not their perfection. The more you allow yourself to be selectively vulnerable with others, the more they will be vulnerable with you too.
5) Don’t settle for what’s there.
If you just moved and desperately want some friends, it’s easy to settle for the first person you meet. The reality, though, is that it is just as important to have standards in your friendships as it is to have standards in your romantic relationships. Remind yourself that we tend to conform to that which is around us, so be careful with jumping into the first friend group that you find, especially if your internal moral compass starts emitting warning noises. Trust your gut!
6) Dispute your core irrational beliefs.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of telling yourself “I’m never going to make friends,” or “starting over at this age is possible.” It’s always possible! Oftentimes, our core irrational beliefs lead us to inadvertently validate them (see – Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy). We can grow and adapt at any age. If you tell yourself that you aren’t capable of making new friends, you will eventually believe it to be true and become a recluse. Go out there and make some friends!
Hannah Rose, MS, NCC, ACRPS, LCPC is a therapist, writer, and public speaker. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Goucher College in 2012 and continued her studies at Johns Hopkins University, where she received her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2015.