Do you have moments where you feel you will never make friends? As we move locations, shift into different phases of our lives, or go to college, it can be tough to make new friends.
You may be surprised that a few years ago I was incredibly lonely. I had no friends and wasn’t sure how to meet new people. Some of you know how my story began. I was swept off my feet by a handsome American with fancy footwork in a Salsa club in England. I left everything I knew to start a new life in the US.
I recently found myself in a grocery store where we used to live when we first arrived. I remember the feelings I had when it was one of my regular haunts. When I arrived I didn’t have a car. This particular store was within walking distance of my house. Hours were frittered away wandering around every section with nothing else to do and nowhere to go. You may have seen me, staring at the food and wondering what the American word was for a courgette or an aubergine? Yes I was lonely.
In England I had an abundance of friends, family and coworkers and was rarely stuck for someone to spend time with. Suddenly I was in a new country, no job, no car, no social life. Through my husband’s job in the military I met some very generous people who showed me around and offered support, but this is not the same as your own friends who know you. I finally found a job and developed friendships. Sadly in a military town friends are often gone just as you become close.
Friendships evolve and some disappear completely. As we grow, we change who we want to be around. So don’t believe for a second that everyone is already set up with all the friends they need for life. We are constantly moving, both physically and emotionally and that can result in being unexpectedly lonely. There are people out there who are smart, funny, intelligent and (not weird at all) and they are looking to be friends with YOU.
You will have to risk something. You will meet people who you don’t connect with. I have had coffees with people who have never wanted to meet me again. I have met others and within seconds known we were destined to be friends.
So how do you meet people who you have something common with? After a couple of years I realized we would be staying in the area, I decided I needed to develop some meaningful friendships that could survive long term. I went out and actively sought out new friends. The place that created most of my connections was www.meetup.com An online community where you can join a group based on interests. Go check it out, there is something for everyone. From there I joined a book club that developed into one of the most fabulous experiences. I am close friends with many of the members years later.
I also joined a running club where there were more amazing people. Once you get to know a few good people you get to know their friends too and before you know it you have a network. My featured image is of an annual St. Patricks Day Run in our local area that draws thousands of people. You don’t have to run, you can just dress up and walk while you people-watch all the crazy costumes and then join the massive after party.
For Women I joined a local Lean in group and have become friends with some inspiring women who are also on the entrepreneurial journey. There are Lean In groups for every kind of connection, heck there is even one for women who want to get out and climb trees.
Take a Continuing Education class at a local college. You can learn almost anything from cheese making to calligraphy, at an inexpensive price.
Google and then check out Networking Events. Even if you are not in business you can go as a guest and you never know who you may meet, they often have door prizes!
Volunteer there are lots of places that really need your help. You don’t have to commit a lot of time, a couple of hours a week at a soup kitchen,charity store, or environmental group can be mutually beneficial.
Find a Hiking Group most cities have one.
Join a Political association and find people who fit in with your beliefs and values.
Check out local Cooking Classes, you can learn a new skill, eat some food and meet people at the same time. They are often offered in restaurants and health food stores.
Join a Church and get involved.
Coworking spaces Are great places, not only to meet people away from home in a business setting but also to make friends. They are popping up everywhere so go see if there is one in your area and see what they have on offer.
Join Toastmasters and learn how to be a better public speaker.
Grab a copy of your local weekend newspaper, read the’ What’s On’ section and go do something.
Join a neighborhood association/neighborhood watch group.
Invite your neighbors over
Join an amateur dramatics/opera chorus.
Sit in a coffee bar and talk to people.
Go on vacation. I went on two vacations alone when I was single they were some of the most fabulous trips I have ever taken. One was a package holiday to a Spanish Island which was a little weird at first but I soon got to know people. The second was a group hiking trip in the Himalayas, I went alone and joined the group when I arrived to start the tour.
Practice gratitude for all the friendships and relationships you have had in your life. We get more of what we are grateful for. There is no reason to stay lonely if you don’t want to be.
Updated March 2018 to add new information