Five Ways to Make New Friends As an Adult
A friend of mine once told me a story about how she and her wife were taking their young daughter on a long car ride, and pulled over at a playground in a random town to stretch their legs and let her run around a bit. As the jungle gym and the children playing came into view, their daughter started squealing with excitement. “Mommy! Mommy! Let me out! All my friends are there!”
As we develop new interests and shed the layers of identities that no longer serve us, we need to surround ourselves with people who support us, encourage us and accept our growth and evolution.
Remember when every other kid on the playground was your friend? When you didn’t have any preconceived judgments about who they were, what they were wearing, where they came from, what they did or didn’t do?
Remember when you felt part of it, no matter where you were or what you were doing? On your soccer team? Outside at recess? On the playground?
Throughout every stage of childhood and adolescence, we are naturally placed in communities. These established social structures help to facilitate our making new friends by introducing commonality—we are in the same classrooms, outside at recess at the same time, in the same dance class or sports team—and then, ultimately, in the same dorm-room halls, classes and university groups.
Then, as adults, we lose these circumstances without even realizing it. Add to that the fact that most of us have so little spare time after work and family obligations that, oftentimes, we feel guilty about spending time fostering our own connections. Sometimes, we are too busy guiding our children’s social order.It is understandable why it feels difficult to make friends as an adult.
Additionally, as we age, we gather judgments that we simply didn’t have as kids. We look to find our place, where we fit. We create (false) stories that say that this person or that person is “cooler than/less cool than” us. We compare and despair, and create an untrue, unspoken social hierarchy in our minds that we start to believe. We label others, and ourselves, and sort it all into “mental” boxes. We are scared of not being liked or accepted, and so we don’t try to make new friends.
But, making friends as an adult is not just a nice thing, it’s necessary for our health and wellness. History shows that we require the support of others to survive. Homo sapiens started out in tribal societies. Our ancient ancestors ate together, lived together and traveled together. They were protected by being a member of the tribe, and if, for any reason, they became disconnected from the group, their physical survival was in jeopardy. Now, while we don’t need these groups any longer to help us hunt and gather food in the wilderness or defend ourselves from prehistoric predators, we do still need support for emotional and spiritual survival.
As we develop new interests and shed the layers of identities that no longer serve us, we need to surround ourselves with people who support us, encourage us and accept our growth and evolution. These essential human connections ground us and enable us to realize our maximum potential as human beings.
Remember the music video for Blind Melon’s “No Rain”? The video opens on a young girl dressed as a bumblebee. She is performing a tap routine and, as her audience responds with laughter, she runs off the stage in tears. As the song continues to play, she wanders through a city, stopping to perform her dance for whomever will watch. Ultimately, she peeks through a gate, astonished to find a green field full of “bee people” of all shapes and sizes dancing joyfully. It culminates as she runs to join them.
We all need to find our beehive.
We need to learn how to make friends, as an adult.
Here Are Five Ways to Make New Friends
We need to find our new playground.
First, we must be vulnerable. C. S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” When you share something about yourself with someone else, connection begins to bud. Remember that everyone is longing for connection—for deeper conversations, to get beyond the facade of an Instagram filter.
We must be empowered and courageous. Even if you feel shy and consider yourself introverted, find your style. Remember that everyone is looking to make new friends, everyone is feeling the same way.
Even though social structures aren’t necessarily set up for us to make new friends, we can set them up ourselves.
Find new communities. Go to meetup.com and explore activities of interest to you in your community. There is a community for anything and everything—Upper West Side moms and dads, LGBTQ, knitting groups, plantsmen! The possibilities are endless.
Utilize social media. Find Facebook groups of people who share your interests and look for events in your area. Click on hashtags or geo-tagged locations that are up your alley and see what comes up. Follow Prowdr online and connect with other Prowdr community members!
Attend one or more festivals/retreats/workshops. Make the commitment to get out there locally or a weekend away and see who and what these programs have to offer you.
Your tribe is waiting for you, but you have to step outside your cave and start down the path that leads you to them.
Soul Camp cofounders, Michelle Goldblum and Alison Leipzig, united to bring all of the things they loved together to create a completely transformative experience for both themselves and their communities. After going to sleepaway camp together as children, they are both entrepreneurs in the health and wellness field. They seek to provide a large-scale community experience that is not only deep and healing, but fun and playful, too. They believe in the power of joy to change the world. And it happens, one camper at a time. Upcoming Soul Camps are happening in New Jersey on June 10, Chicago on June 24, New York on August 23–27 and California October 24–28. For more information, visit www.soul.camp.