Friday, July 11, 2014

How to Make Friends When You Know No One

I've been hoping to expand my blog more lately and will be starting a new {hopefully} series called:

I love giving advice and am known for my sometimes too blunt honesty.  I cover lots of topics here, everything from friends to crafts to food.  So there is a little something for everyone.  And TODAY, we get our first part of the series. 
A sorority sister from college asks:  "Any advice for making friends when you don't know anyone in your new city?"

She and her new husband are thinking of moving from North Dakota to a place where purchasing a home would be more affordable.  I can definitely relate with wanting to try something outside of the midwest (although I love it!). 

I have to disclose that I did know ONE person when we moved to Austin.  We went to high school together and had a lot of mutual friends, but at the time we moved here, were more "small town friends" rather than besties.  {Now I consider her a great and REAL friend, as she is a great and REAL person!} 
Now, for the important part...HOW DO YOU MAKE FRIENDS?!
This may seem like a really absurd question, but I have to confess that I totally Googled it when we first moved here.  Being in a place with no "friends" can be really overwhelming, and I know that I (personally) got a little panicky and frustrated with the thought of having to make new friends.  It's like dating...but for friends.  And it can be just as awkward as a first date, too! 
---Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success----

*  YOUR JOB:  When moving to a new place, finding a job where there are employees of your age bracket can be extremely helpful.  I currently work at a law firm where most of the staff is older than I am.  {Side note, I am always the BABY at my jobs, why is that?}  The people are absolutely great, but when it comes to connecting outside of work, my available options are small.  Luckily, the few females around my age at work are great and we get along!

*  WHERE YOU LIVE:  Try to live close to a fun or central part of your new city.  We had gotten very settled and comfortable at our last home, so when we moved, we wanted a house with a garage, yard, etc.  This led us to be farther out of the city than we now enjoy.  Therefore, when it comes to more spontaneous activities or "going out", we have a much longer drive back home, which sometimes makes us skip things.  Live somewhere you know you can easily get to fun events, coffee shops, etc. 

*  PICK YOUR CITY WISELY:  Make sure to pick a city that you know will fit your interests, and where you can meet people similar to yourself.  For example:  if you love the city, somewhere in Montana might not be the best option for you.  Also look for cities that are "transplant" friendly.  There are anywhere from 60-130 people moving to Austin, TX every day, which means that many people we meet are in a very similar situation as us.  This makes the "ice-breaker" portion of getting to know someone much easier. 

*  TIME OF YEAR:  Consider the time of year you move.  If you move in the dead of winter or the strain of summer, less people are going to be "out and about" and trying to meet new people.  I know back in Minnesota, during the winter we stayed home as much as possible! 

*  JOIN MEETUP.COM:  This is a website that "helps groups of people with shared interests plan events and facilitates off line group meetings in various localities around the world".  You can join groups with no pressure to attend events.  I am a member of several groups, and then I get invites for "Meetups" when they plan events.  This is where I met my Crafty Girl crowd, we have attended happy hours, and learned about smaller events around town such as a swimsuit fashion show and a cancer fundraiser that we went to. 

SPEEDFRIENDING.COM:  This is a site that puts together events specifically for people to make friends.  It's like speed dating, but for friends.  I have not personally attended an event yet, but they do come up on my Meetup and I am still considering one for the future. 

*  GO TO BARS ON WEEKNIGHTS:  Go to a bar on a weeknight after work when the place is not crazy-busy like it is on a weekend.  Sit with open chairs at your table, or at the bar, and make yourself easy to approach.  You can also mingle around and look for people who look like they're willing to chat.  Bars tend to be a bit quieter and more casual on weeknights, making conversation easier and people more approachable. 

*  JOIN A SPORTS LEAGUE:  This is a great way to meet people with similar interests.  You have a standing appointment to get together weekly with a fun group of people.  We recently joined a bocce ball league, and the teams are for five people.  We joined as two and will be placed on a team with three others.  HELLO automatic way to meet three new people!  {Hope they're fun!} 
So get out there! 
These are options that we have tried and had success with.  Making new friends after college can be intimidating and difficult, but the only way is to get out there and try!  Just pretend you're in kindergarten again ;)  Play games, be nice, and SMILE! 

Also, don't get discouraged.  Like I said, it's like dating.  Not every person is going to be a fit for you.  You might have to go through some awkard situations.  But you might meet someone that is the perfect fit for you! 

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