During my teenage years’, almost all of my friendships were pretty much determined by proximity. My childhood best friend actually shared my initials, and in British schooling, this means sitting next to each other in almost every lesson. Whether it was our mandatory cohabitation of a rather small desk or celestial forces at work, we spent the next four years glued to each other’s sides.
As an adult, friendships work a little differently. Time poor, scattered across the globe, grown-up friendships aren’t what they cracked up to be. Meetups have to be arranged around demanding work schedules, boyfriends, and if we’re being honest, the sheer exhaustion of life.
So, what happens when you come to the realisation that you have to make new friends?
There’s something bitterly ironic about an entire generation feeling like friendless
For financial, career and a whole host of other reasons, millennials often have to relocate, and over 86% of those under thirty, feel lonely. Whilst there’s something bitterly ironic about an entire generation feeling like friendless, it’s little comfort to those who have found themselves in this situation.
When I moved back to Manchester, I remember the sheer, overwhelming sadness of realising I had left all my friendships back in the capital. Starting a job that I hated, my boyfriend over 300 miles away, my weekends were spent tearily scrolling through Instagram as life in London moved on without me.
So, I did what most millennials would do, and took to the internet. Most articles suggested joining sports clubs (I completed exactly one Zumba session), reconnecting with old friends and finding people with similar interests. At this point, I should add, my only interest was watching Netflix and podcasts about serial killers – not exactly friend-making material. So, I awkwardly ‘put myself out there’, I joined a drama class, Latin lessons and bought a violin. And pretty soon, I had a new group of friends. Whilst I still dearly miss my two closest friends (who are currently striving for world domination in London), I have some new relationships to build on.
That’s the crux of this problem, we’re all terrified of rejection and we shouldn’t be.
Making friends as a grown-up isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a pretty terrifying concept, as it seems like we’ve all forgotten how to do it. Unlike the playground, it no longer feels natural to ask a stranger what they did on Saturday. But that’s the crux of this problem, we’re all too scared of rejection and we shouldn’t be. Rejection is a natural part of life, and it’s essential to any kind of growth. Asking a stranger/old friend/girl on Instagram out for a coffee generally isn’t as scary as it seems.
Last year, I messaged four people about grabbing a drink and three of them replied saying some variant of ‘sure, I don’t know that many people around here either’ – one of them was just a bit confused (quite possibly because I was bit pissed when I sent it). But it’s a story that I (and many others) have laughed about. With this in mind, here’s my grown up guide to making friends:
Cover your basics: Friends of friends, that girl at work that’s a good laugh on a Friday, old friends and, if you’re feeling adventurous, that girl you can’t really remember how you met. Slide on into their DM’s and catch up.
Join a ton of clubs: Interested in drama? Played netball in high school? Join a local group. Don’t really have any hobbies? This is the ideal time to take up pottery, latin, Irish dance and other weird stuff you’ve always harboured lofty intentions of taking up.
When you meet people, actually speak to them: The tricky bit. Except, not really. Chat to people, talk about their cat, interests and (inevitably) nightmarish job.
The internet: The answer to most of your problems is online. Join Bumble BFF and in a tinder-esque fashion, you can swipe to hearts content to meet new people. Added bonus of Tinder flashbacks for those of you in a relationship.
The bottom line is that being an adult is hard enough. We’re all just attempting to keep it all together, but having a group of people to celebrate the fact that we’re (at least) trying, can make it all just a little bit better.