Thursday, January 24, 2019

How To Make Friends In A New Place

I could have sworn I posted a post of this nature in the fall, but after looking back through posts realized I never did. I am so glad that I realized this because I feel like it may be helpful for many of you. Whether you graduated in December and are trying to figure out life in a new city, graduated in May and are finally adjusted to where you live but are still looking for friends to explore with, or have been out of school for a while but are always on the hunt for new friends it’s my hope that these tips help you out. 

I seriously think I hit the friend jackpot here in Birmingham. When Nell and I were driving back to Birmingham from being at home, I told her how worried I was that I’ll have no friends when she and our other friends finish PA school since I’m sure some will move away. They still have a while before they graduate but boy have they made Birmingham fun and feel like home. I didn’t expect to have such good friends so quickly and leaving the established friend group I had in Greenville was one of the hardest parts about moving. Because I was worried about not having friends, I think I was a lot more intentional in how I tried to make new ones. I have always been more of a quality over quantity person, and even with a growing group, I am confident that they fit the bill for quality too. 

Below are a few of my tips for making friends in a new city. I’m always open to hearing more ways of making new friends so if you have any great ideas definitely let me know in the comments! 

Be Inclusive + Use Your Network
This is embarrassing, but before I even got to Birmingham, I wrote down a list of people I knew that lived there. At the top of that list was one of my good friend’s, Macy, who I knew would be a nice taste of home in a new place. Conveniently enough, Macy also seems to know everyone, and I had no doubt that she would be a great person to help introduce me to new friends. Another no-brainer when it came to that list was Nell since she had moved to Birmingham a few weeks before me to start PA school. With two close friends and a roommate that I knew well I felt confident that I had a good jumping off point. But aside from them, my list included people I went to high school with and didn’t keep up with, co-counselors from camp, sorority sisters from Furman, and even people that I knew of because of another friend. By seeing how far my network reached it was a bit less scary moving to a new place. The trick is to actually use that network and be inclusive of those people from different groups/periods of your life. The best way we did that is by hosting activities…

Host Activities
I still laugh that my roommate’s mom thinks that I am super social and am the reason Rebecca has friends. While I was social in college, I definitely wasn’t quite as outgoing as I’ve become since moving to Birmingham. With a great house (especially our back deck) it became easy for Rebecca and I to invite people over in an attempt to expand our circles. We hosted a house warming party and sent out invitations through Facebook since it seemed like a good way to invite the people we knew that lived here. We told those people to invite their friends, and over time our football watching parties got bigger. Hosting events or even organizing activities for friends has been the best way of meeting new people for me so far. I love that our house has become a go-to place for people to hang out and feel open to inviting more friends to and I’m ready for the spring and summer when we can use our deck again since it seems to be the perfect place for getting big groups together. 

Be Consistent
This may sound odd, and it’s definitely a tip I need to work on more but hear me out. Consistency applies to reaching out/being intentional with friends you’ve already met and making friends through activities or places you go to consistently. As for consistently reaching out, I would recommend continuing to invite someone to something even if they don’t always say yes. If it is clear they don’t want to hang out with you then obviously don’t do this but if they have reasons why they haven’t been able to come in the past don’t let that stand in the way of having them join you and your group in the future. For a little bit at the beginning of my time in Birmingham, I felt like I couldn’t leave on a weekend because I didn’t want to miss out on group activities and not be invited to the next. This was silly since at this age we’ve all started to understand that people are busy and schedules can fill up. 

On the other hand, consistently going to the same place or sticking to a routine causes you to become more familiar with other people that may also be “regulars.” Personally, two consistent routines I’ve established include going to the Y to workout after work each day and going to Starbucks on Friday mornings before work to write blog posts. While neither of these outings are ones in which I am overly social, I have started to pick up on who else has these routines. The next step would be for me to introduce myself or make small talk. I know that sounds weird (especially at the gym), but it doesn’t have to be. Acknowledging that you are often in the same vicinity as another person could potentially leave to friendship (even if it is just in that setting) so why not! 

Say Yes
If you were to google “how to make friends in a new city” I am sure that saying yes to invitations to hang out would be at the top of any list and rightfully so. While there are times after work that I am tired and don’t really want to do anything aside from put on my pajamas and get in bed, saying yes to invites from friends strengthens the established friendships and allows me to meet other potential friends. It can be scary to say yes to an invite to a party especially if you have to show up alone, but chances are you’ll be glad you went and socialized. 

Recently, my friends and I were trying to figure out what to do one Friday night, and one friend had reached out to someone she went to college with to see what that friend group was up to. Even though the rest of us didn’t know this person or the friend group, we figured we might as well give it a try. It ended up being a fun night, and we were all glad that we had said yes to it even though at the time we weren’t really sure what to expect. Now, it’s another group of people we can invite to hang out and continue to expand our circle. 

Join A Group
People always joke about joining a kickball league as a way to make friends, but in Greenville, it was absolutely perfect for that. A big group of people I went to Furman with decided to make a team and join the league and we had a blast. When I got to Birmingham, I really wanted to join a team but was a little hesitant since I hadn’t heard of anyone doing one. Now, I’ve heard a number of good things about the social sports leagues that Birmingham has and am tempted to see if I can get a group together to do this (or at least one friend so that. I don’t have to join a random team entirely on my own). 

Aside from social sports leagues (because let’s be real, the kickball part was fun but hanging out before or after was equally as enjoyable) joining a bible study or group that interests you would be another great way to make friends based on a common interest.

While it may seem like a lot of effort to make friends in a new place, it ends up being more effortless than you think especially since so many other people (especially at my age) are looking for friends too! Hopefully, these tips help you to make new friends and serve as a slight reminder of how to be a good friend. 

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