Whether you have moved to a new town/city, changed jobs or perhaps your social group has moved on in a different direction and you feel ‘left behind’. At some point, most of us will need to brush up on the ‘how to make friends’ skills we aced in primary school and apply them to the scary, sarcastic and sometimes isolating adult world. Fear not it can be done.
Let’s start with our first friendship encounters…..school
I don’t know about you but in primary school, I felt everyone was my best friend. That may be because like most children I had a different ‘best friend’ every day, so by the time I actually grasped what a true friend was I’d likely been through half the school. I was the artist, an extrovert, the lead* in the nativity play. Make friends was literally child’s play.
*I actually played angel Gabriel but Mary didn’t have a solo number so yeah I’m going with lead… darling! (seriously how did I have any friends)
Secondary school was a different story. I was at the beginning of my long…long…. journey to becoming the confident, creative, heart on my sleeve fantasist I am today. In my experience, these are all traits that teenagers (girls in particular) can smell a mile away and for some unbeknown reason feel the need to try and extinguish. I had it all. Fake invitations out where I would be ‘stood up’, calls to my house saying I should leave school because ‘let’s face it nobody really likes you’. It’s fair to say that my supposed ‘best days of my life’ were disappointing and thus began my awkward descent into friendships, social groups and general human exchanges. Woohoo!
The friends you get from that ‘’Gap year’’
A lot of people in their thirties are still close to those they went to uni with or went travelling with. These are the friends who you grew with, became independent with and who usually refer to you by your last name or an affectionate nickname based on a horrific night out on apple sourz.
Based on my school experiences I never quite got the nerve to go to university, assuming this would be three years of the same. So I left my small town, and its small mind and travelled the world on cruise ships for almost 5 years, working, adventuring and hoping to meet some like-minded people whom I’d become best friends for life with. Whos love and bond would be so astounding at some point someone would just have to write a film about us… or musical that would have been fine too.
Of course on the whirlwind that is travel, people move around and those close bonds, you had can often fade away.
After I lost interest is cruising the Caribbean for 6 months of the year (yeah I know sometimes I hate myself too!) I decided I couldn’t go back home and that only a city could give me the vibrancy and eclecticism I craved. So I moved to Bristol. Yay!
Finding connections in the city
I thought the move to Bristol would be the beginning of my big Sex and the City-esq opening credits scene. Four city girls. Strutting down Park Street (well you can’t strut up it, it’s more of a hike). There was just one problem. I literally did not know anyone in Bristol. It was time to take matters into my own hands.
Here are few things I did when I first moved to Bristol to try and widen my social circle beyond work and the contestants of the Great British Bake Off. It’s something a lot of us don’t think we’ll have to practice once we leave school but here I am 30 years old and still trying to make new friends.
Download an app. When I first moved to Bristol I downloaded Citysocializer they hold social events for all kinds of interest and once a month do a new members night, usually in a bar. There’s a host and they will greet you and make sure you’re reasonably okay. I made some connections that were great for giving me a tour of Bristol or showing me the best waterholes in town. There are loads of tinder style friendship apps out now and maybe that is the way forward. I didn’t like the sound of it originally as like tinder I assume its quite judgy but I would be open to giving it a go in the name or research.
Join a club. In a city especially there will be a club for you, music, sports, crafts, languages there’s probably even a club for people who hate clubs if your that way inclined. Check out meetup for groups in your area. I joined my local musical society and almost all my friends are part of this group. Wow, what a clique. I’ve always wanted to be part of the clique 😊
Say yes more. Meeting new people can be intimidating, awkward even stressful but if you always say no to those impromptu nights out you’ll end up missing out on what good be really fun times with really great people.
Be okay with doing social things by yourself. I think this one really depends on your personality, and although I may not have expressed this well is this post I really am okay with my own company. Yeah group things are fun and nothing beats 1 on 1 time over some cocktails but if there is a film I want to go and see or a festival I’m interested in and no one else is. I would just go on my own. Eventbrite always has a great list of free events that just might fill that free weekend.
Thankfully over the last 4 years in Bristol, I have made friends, re-acquainted myself with people from my past and become more okay with the fact that not everyone is meant to be a friend, hey some people will flat out just dislike you. I still find large female groups utterly terrifying but I’m working on that. I even reached out to someone after briefly meeting once. It was like gathering the nerve to ask out someone on a date, but at least I put myself out there. Any chance you’re free for brunch? 😊
At the end of the day, you can’t force connections with people but you can give yourself the greatest chance of finding someone to keep your secrets, hold your hair back when your drunk and re-tell embarrassing stories of you from your one trip to Norway! Other destinations work just as well. Happy friendship finding.
If you’re just looking to up the enjoyment factor out of life check out my friends Sophie So and her ‘Complete beginner’s guide to hygge’