A couple of years ago my husband (then fiancé) got a job as a visiting professor at Oklahoma City University. It was a great opportunity. The kind you don’t turn down. But that isn’t to say it was an easy decision. We were living in Los Angeles, and so to say it was a culture shock to move to Oklahoma for a year would be an understatement. Leaving our friends and the city we had come to love (for so many reasons!) was a choice that was a bit devastating for me. But we decided to try it, and our crazy adventure began. We got married and immediately began packing up to head on a cross country road trip to (what felt like) the middle of nowhere.
It was hard moving to Oklahoma. I didn’t have a job, we didn’t know where we were going to live, and we knew nothing of the area. But the hardest part about it was that we didn’t have any friends or family there. In fact, we didn’t have any friends or family within a few hundred miles.
Making friends is easy when you’re young. You’re in the same class, on the same team, you live in a dorm together. I became good friends with a girl in college because we simply happened to be walking in the same direction. Within minutes we were planning a night out together. But it becomes increasingly difficult to make friends as an adult. And increasingly “creepy” to ask a complete stranger if they know of any good parties going on that night.
So maybe you’ve recently moved, or you’ve simply realized that you don’t have as many things in common with your old friends as you used to. Maybe you’ve prepared a tape for the next Real World only to finally recognize that you’re, “Way too old to ever be considered.” Whatever the case may be, you want to make more friends in 2017. Because you’re fun! Other people need to share in your awesomeness!
But for many of us, making friends as an adult is a terrifying proposition. One that we’ve put off for a couple of years, only to realize the sad truth: We’re kind of lonely. So how do you make new friends?
Try a Meetup Group!
Pretty much every major city has Meetup, and while you may feel weird going to one, I guarantee you that every other person there is there to make friends too. And feels just as nervous and weird. So it’s a super low key way to meet other people who A) like the same activities as you and B) Are also really trying to make friends.
There are basically groups for every activity under the sun, but in Oklahoma, I chose a ladies book club. Was the book club a little lame? Sure. There were a strange mix of people there and a huge age range. So it was a little awkward at times, but tbh way less so than I expected. Since we had the book to talk about, we had a baseline to chat — even if every person there wasn’t about to become a BFF. Lots of women in the group had also just moved, and so it was fun to talk about the challenges of moving to Oklahoma City with other people experiencing exactly the same thing. One girl, I immediately bonded with over the fact that we both hated it (I know, I know—I should have been keeping a more open mind, but believe me. Oklahoma is rough).
Take a Class.
Similar to the Meetup idea, this is a good way to meet like-minded people. I started a MFA in creative writing and suddenly found myself surrounded by other liberal artists. And even if you don’t meet anyone to hang out with, it gives you something social and active to do every week. Simply by proximity you’ll find lots of new people to be friendly with. So find something you’re passionate about and Google classes in the area.
You can have fun and be mentally stimulated while you broaden your friendship horizons.
Get a Pet.
I mean not to be your new best friend (although they’re going to be a GOOD BOY AND THE BEST FRIEND EVER). We’re trying to find you human companionship, we swear. But when you don’t have kids yet, it can be hard to meet people. Just like when you were in school, once you have kids you have an easy in to meet other parents. But for those of us in the “in between” stage, it can be hard to approach potential friends or have an in to talk to strangers.