Even when you aren’t particularly socially awkward it can still be hard to get out there and meet people. And you aren’t alone: there are even studies that prove that it’s more difficult to make meaningful connections with others as an adult! Some people may find it easier to walk into a room and make new friends than others, but I can promise you that most people get those nervous butterflies fluttering around their stomachs. Whether you are in a new city, school, or job, the idea of meeting new people can be a little daunting. But don’t despair: whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, here are 8 ways to meet people and make new friends after high school (even when it’s scary AF).
How to Meet New People (even when it’s scary AF)
1. Learn to be comfortable alone
We often feel like we have to do things as a group in order for them to be fun, but in reality, that’s not always the case. I personally would rather go to an art gallery or museum alone. How many times have you blown off an event because you couldn’t find a friend to go with you? Try it out: it will do wonders for your confidence and you will more than likely meet other people who have the same interests as you.
2. Break the Ice With a Smile
Our phones often serve as a barrier between us and the outside world. It’s easy to look like you are completely engrossed in Instagram so that you don’t have to meet anyone’s eye. Try putting your phone in your pocket and walking into a room with a smile, even if it’s a nervous one. It will get your happy endorphins rushing AND make you look approachable. You probably won’t even have to make conversation with anyone because they will be drawn to you first. And I bet there will be quite a few others who will be so grateful to see a warm, smiling face.
3. Make Conversation
I don’t mean that you need to force conversation with others but think about all of the times that you can naturally start a conversation. Next time you pop into your regular coffee shop mention to the barista how much you love their playlists. Ask the cool-looking librarian about some good books on a subject you are interested in. Or how about sparking up a conversation with the person next to you in your yoga class? These are all places that you frequent on the regular and are potential goldmines for new friendships!
4. Be Yourself
The best person you can be is yourself. If you are shy don’t try to cover it up, it will just cause you more anxiety. Don’t push yourself too hard, and remember not to worry about what others think. Most of the time they are too wrapped up in worrying about what others think of them anyway!
5. Volunteer Somewhere
When I first moved to the U.S. I didn’t know anyone. While I started to make some friends at work I wanted to broaden my horizons a little so I volunteered at a soup kitchen. Ten years on and I am still friends with people I met there! Check out different volunteer opportunities in your area and sign up for something that you would enjoy. It’s a win-win: you are giving back AND forging relationships with people who think like you!
6. Join a class
Is there something that you have always wanted to try but never dared to? Now is your chance! Learn how to cook awesome vegan meals, to swing dance or even a new language. You can bond with others over a failed dish or a mispronounced word, and it will feel completely effortless.
7. Use Social Media
Most of us have no issue spending time chatting with others via our different social media channels, but how often do we use social media for IRL meetups? Check your Facebook events and see what’s going on in your area and if anyone you know is doing something that sounds like fun. You might just be surprised at all of the different outings you have been missing out on. Bring some of those vegan cupcakes you baked at your class to an acquaintance’s birthday bash – I bet at least half of the attendees are in the same situation as you! You can also create your own meet up around a show or art gallery opening you are already going to.
8. One Step At a Time
It’s totally understandable if you don’t want to throw yourself into speed dating or bar-hopping with people you barely know. Start out by going to places where you feel comfortable, a local coffee shop, or museum, and go from there. And remember: you are there to have fun and make new friends. If you end up feeling out of place or just not interested no one will get mad if you leave!
Believe me, it’s not easy to put yourself out there, and there are times when it might feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. But trust me, I met some of my closest friends by daring myself to go to poetry readings alone, and by making sure I didn’t miss happy hour mixers that were organized by people at work. And remember: healthy friendships are important!