When I was 21 I was embarrassed to say I wanted a girlfriend.
When I was 22 I was embarrassed to say I was lonely.
When I was 23 I was embarrassed to try online dating.
When I was 25 and moved to India, I was embarrassed to say I didn’t have any friends.
Looking back I realize…wow, why was I embarrassed? I was pretty much everyone else.
School Hands You Friends on Silver Platter
I got an email from someone the other day asking me:
How do i make friends in a new city, when everyone is seemingly so busy on their phone? it’s really difficult it seems.
What a great question.
I’ve been there, and if I move back to California…I’ll probably be there again.
I mean I’ll have my wife, but it’s important everybody has a balance right?
Colleges are probably changing their business model now that all the information is online, and if they’re smart they’ll play on the fact that the real value proposition is that you’re part of a massive group all trying to do the same thing.
Ditto for places like Infosys and Wipro…the appeal of leaving college alone again, and then getting sent to a campus of 10 weeks training with a bunch of other 22 year-olds, is probably a very appealing offer.
In fact, we all know people who met in an IT or corporate batch and then got married.
A Batch for your match ahhh?
You Will Find Yourself Lonely Again Every 5 Years
Just like a million inspirational memes have told us that life is about constant learning, I’d like to add that life is about constantly meeting new people. And rather than being set in your ways with the same 10 people you know, talking about the same pointless sports or politics or celebrity gossip…maybe it’s also constantly making better friends.
- In a new city
- Finding yourself as the unmarried one when all your friends are settling down
- Just broke up with someone and life seems to be starting over
- Or somehow just finding yourself in need of a new social circle
You’re always going to need to know how to make new friends.
When you’re 20, when you’re 30, probably when you’re 80.
People who have friends may live longer, and continuously knowing how to expand our circle is a part of the human condition.
Making friends is something we assume only children need to learn. But now that I’ve explained we’ve all been where the reader is, and many of will be there again…here’s something we all have to accept:
You Need to Continuously Grow Your Friendships in Order to Continuously Grow Yourself
It’s part of assimilating into the world, and later it gets transformed into this sad word called “Professional networking” which has its place but still needs a makeover in our digital revolution.
When I moved to India, I knew nobody. I was lonely, and for the first time in my 25-year-old life…I was more than happy to admit it.
When you’re in a new city, the stigma of admitting your despair in the typical human condition isn’t so serious and it’s ok do things like:
- Say You’re Lonely
- Go to bars or movies alone
- Meet people online
- Sign up for activities, find hobbies, etc…
- Start stand up comedy in an empty bar of two people…and now you see the comedy scene we have today.
To be honest, the ability to be alone in a new city withourt fear of judgement is incredibly liberating.
We think of all of that stuff as lame or childish as we get older yet all of us are probably lonelier than we’ve ever been. I don’t even need to put a stat out there, you know most of us are faffing on our phones when we’re in a metro or in a cab and a lot of it is just COMPLETELY POINTLESS.
I mean hell, even Tinder and Bumble now are trying to simply match people up as Friends. WTF?
So How Do I Make Friends When I need to after college?
Here’s what I love about this problem. You’ve already admitted you want to meet people, so the hard part is over. Now you can do any of the following:
- Sign up at your local gym and sign up with a trainer. Then after do 30 minutes of walking or take a cardio class.
- The classic sit at the hotel bar chatting with the bartender and whoever else is there. (for businesspeople)
- Take up a hobby like photography or stand up comedy and join a meetup.
- Start a side hustle like blogging *Cough* and find people in your new city who are doing similar things.
- Take a foreign language class in your new city.
- Volunteer for the next work event like a choreography of the employee dance or event planning.
- Do your evening laptop work in the hotel lobby or coffee shop or lounge.
- Take a local hip hop or Zumba class (also at the gym).
These are some suggestions, but did you notice anything from the above list? All of those things are win-win, because even if you don’t meet a buddy or soulmate or even just an acquaintance….you’re going to be a better person for whatever skill you picked up. And as you start meeting more and more people, you’ll slowly start to also meet yourself.
Is it harder to make friends outside of college or a social environment like an entering batch of a massive corporation?
Bars and clubs sadly monopolize the whole meeting strangers thing, but if every grocery store was like Black Friday with pushing and shoving and dirty bathrooms to fit one person…would you honestly be there? Or would you just order your food in?
There’s a reason older folks beyond 30 go to clubs less and less…not because they’re too good for it, but they realize there are way more effective ways to meet people.
The bad news is that it does require you to forget a lot of the things you learned.
But the good news is that the friends you make after 30 are the ones with similar passions and motivations that is ultimately going to help you meet the greatest best friend of all…yourself.