A topic of conversation that is forever floating around the internet is ‘how to make friends in your 20s’.
It was so easy as teenager and a young child to make friends but as an adult, it’s damn hard. There’s no instruction guide on ‘how to make friends in your 20s’. Most people make friends in school and they keep them for life. Similarly with University friends too. But if you’re anything like me, you left school and University with the amount of friends you could easily count on one hand (more like half a hand) and have eventually drifted apart completely. I’ve been unfortunate in the fact friendships have always faded and changed during my educational and younger years. Although, I prefer to consider that as a fortunate situation as I am left with real friends and not a lot of people who I’d call “friends”. Every single friendship I have now, I made in my 20s (or just before my 20s). I have one or two friendships that were rekindled from my teen years but the majority of my friendships were brand new to me. With that, I wanted to write about how to make friends in your 20s and share more than my advice, but how I did it. It’s easier than you think.
Putting yourself in an situation where you have to talk to other people
This situation could be a gym class, an evening hobby, an internship, a social event or gathering. Go somewhere where there are people and where the situation is to be social. Being somewhere with other people means that at some point you are going to exchange a smile or even a hello. If you, for example, attend the same gym class every week, the weekly smile you give to the girl next to you can turn into a weekly ‘hello’. From that hello a conversation can flow. If you feel like you’re getting a good vibe from someone, talk more. That’s all you have to do. Talk and progress the conversation and friendships will naturally form. They might not be the ‘best friend’ kind of friendships immediately but it’ll be a starting point. The most important thing is to go somewhere and do something that you will find people you have things in common with. You’ll both be there because you enjoy the reason to be there.
Get a hobby or a purpose
Getting a hobby or a purpose ties perfectly into my point above. If you have a hobby you’ll meet like minded people. You’re not going to make friends sitting infront of the TV every night watching Friends. If you don’t have a hobby or a reason to get out of the house, go and get one. Join a gym, join an evening class, find an event that’s on frequently that you could attend or even a one off event every now and again. Even go out with current friends and see who else you might meet. Go out and have experiences to meet likeminded people. Friends aren’t going to necesarily come to you, you’ve got to go to them.
Inviting people places
When you get to the point of those weekly smiles and hello how are you’s, engage in conversation to see if you have anything in common. If you find you have a mutual interest invite them to hang out. Both like thriller films? Great, see whats on at the cinema! It’s scary to ask someone to hang out but when you’ve done it once, it’s done and you’ll never have to ask for the first time again. Take a deep breath and say ‘hey, I saw this and thought of you, fancy going along?’. The worst thing they’ll do is say no. It’s a bit embarrassing if you’re feeling nervous but it’s not the end of the world and no one will be laughing at you. That’s all in your mind. Make the effort and be brave because you never know, that the other person may already want to hang out with you.
Don’t force a friendship
If other people are wanting to make friends or talk to you, it’ll happen. As harsh as it may seem, (and a concept I am familiar with) you have to consider that not everyone wants ‘more friends’. Someone just might not be looking to add another friend into their social mix or diary or looking to socialise with anyone in the situation you are in. Always chat to people, see what the vibe is and if they want to hang out. If they don’t, don’t keep asking. Yes, they might just not fancy what you’ve offered or not be free for a couple of weeks but if the vibe is that they just don’t want to, leave it. This is the sort of thing you’ll pick up on, it’s obvious when someone isn’t interested in being more than what you are then and there.
Don’t force friendships just because of one common interest either. I see this happening a lot in the blogging world. Having a blog, doesn’t mean you’d instantly make good friends with all other bloggers. You’ve got to have other interests and similarities to keep a conversation flowing. In the simplest term and the way I think about it is that not every boy is your type and suitable for you to date, therefore not every girl is your type of friend and suitable for your friendship. You don’t have to like everyone and you don’t have to be friends with the first new person you speak to. Friends are like soulmates, they don’t pop up everywhere.
Making friends is tough as every situation and person is different.
Want to know how I made the friends I have now?
I made a friend at the gym, by our mutual need for a gin and tonic after a circuit workout. I made a best friend through work experience by spending a lot of time chatting and then hanging out at the pub. I made more best friends through that friend, because her friends came to the pub too! I also made friends on the internet, which was a new and fun experience. I made a best friend by speaking over a hashtag and some recent friends by having a few similar interests and ending up chatting on a thread on Twitter. One thing always leads to another and you can often end up in a chatty whats app group. You need to make the initial effort but after that, friendships are natural.
You’ve got to put yourself out there, get out of the house (or get on Twitter in some case!) and be brave. Speak to people and put yourself out there. Asking someone to hang out is scary, of course, but no one is going to laugh at you if someone says no. They’ll say no, you’ll say ok and you’ll all carry on with your lives. If a friendship is meant to happen, it will. You’ve just got to start a conversation and plant the seed.