Lets be honest, making new friends as an adult is hard. Like the kind of challenge that leaves me reevaluating my every social interaction and usually at the end of the day, panicking on the phone to my mum that people don’t actually enjoy my company.
(She’s a very patient woman.)
This topic has been my biggest challenge throughout my second year in New York. The first year was mostly about surviving this adventure. Everything was new – work, my apartment, getting around the city – that I didn’t have much time to think about my longterm plans. But this year, life has started to settle in a really nice way. I own a plant, I’ve hung up an entire gallery wall of pictures in my room, and what once felt like a temporary vacation from my life in Los Angeles, is now feeling like my actual real life where walking your groceries home and always being late to lunch due to an unpredictable train schedule is normal.
Yet this year, waves of anxiety about making friends seems to be coming in closer and closer intervals. The other day, after being accidentally stood up by a new friend twice in the same day, I walked aimlessly through Midtown with my heart in my shoes thinking, “This is it. This is my New York social life. I’ll work, eat, do yoga, and spend Friday evenings talking to my cats about my week. I won’t ever set down roots in New York and no one will set down roots around me. I’ll be a balloon drifting about, untied and floating.”
A bit dramatic, but I was already falling so quickly down the rabbit hole it was just best to wait till I hit the bottom and was directed to Wonderland.
The thing is, I have no solid conclusion for this piece except to say: If this is you, I feel you on all the levels. It sucks, but it won’t always suck. Making new friends is a handful of luck, a sprinkle of fate, and ultimately, my decision to engage in hobbies, classes, concerts, clubs, volunteer groups, or sports teams. I myself have my eye on a pottery class for the summer along with volunteering to walk dogs at a local Brooklyn shelter.
If you’re nervous about approaching people, start small, ask how their day is going. If that interaction is positive, be brave enough to ask them to hang out. That’s what my friend Jillian did for me, and it gave me such a vote of confidence that months later I turned around and asked another new friend to get cupcakes. Chances are, the person you ask probably thinks you’re pretty cool too but is equally nervous to ask you to go bowling/spelunking/trivia night-ing. If they say no with no further inquiries, they weren’t meant to fill your social sphere. That says nothing about you but is just leaving room open for that fatemate friend to still come along and blow you away.
Good luck fellow space travelers.