I am two years into the working world. The summer I graduated from Winthrop University was the same summer I moved to Charleston, South Carolina where I knew all of three people. The first few months in my career were confusing, fast-paced, and loaded with mistakes. There were nights that I didn’t make it home until after 9 pm. When I finally did get home, all I wanted to do was grab a drink (or two, or three) with a bud and vent about the life of a grown up.
The tough luck story of it all has been summed up in a simple hashtag.
New city, new career, and no new friends. Pardon my French, but friend-making can sometimes quite simply suck – especially if you’re living alone. It is hard to put yourself out there and most of us don’t like to do it. In our twenties, we are no longer at an age where a play date makes us soul mates or a scraped knee is grounds to becoming an arch nemesis. Things are more complicated. Let’s set the scene:
College // The glory days. No matter your level of weirdness, stress, or intoxication, you usually have a bud by your side. Whether you’re at a tech school or main stream university, college students have unlimited opportunities for friend-making (roommates, class, cafeterias, clubs, athletics, sororities, fraternities, just to name a few). You graduate with besties and promise that nothing will change once you all go in separate directions.
Post Grad Life, Year One // The stress of a new city and a new job is enough to take some of us overboard. Remember when the idea of a 9-5 sounded like a California dream boat compared to projects, exams and essays? Well, unless you’re working at Jimmy Johns, most of the time that 9 to 5 turns into 5:30…6….6:30….7. Strike one. Now that it’s 8 pm and you’ve managed to make it home without a honk, what do you do? Who do you call? Who in the hell lives in this city?! Strike two. So you open a bottle of wine and turn on How to Get Away with Murder. Strike Three.
Hence, the hashtag #NONEWFRIENDS. Related hashtags include #postgradprobs #imisscollege and my personal favorite, #welcometotherealworld. I’ve seen these tags sarcastically posted on Instagram as a picture of Netflix and a bowl of ice cream or, more enthusiastically, in happy hour pics that include no one but college friends.
So, why is it so hard for our generation to make new friends after graduation?
I’ll admit, I was definitely included in this friendless category when I first moved to Charleston two years ago. Though my hashtags looked more like #amaloser #imakemyboyfriendskypeme and #ijustusedmyneighbornettomakefriends (all true).
So what made the difference? For me, it was putting myself out there and hoping people we’re nice. Yes, I seriously used my apartment complex’s Neighbor Net to message a girl I met at a “Meet Your Neighbors” cocktail hour. It sounds so odd… but hey, it worked! She and I even managed to get a kickball team together for the Charleston Sports and Social Club. Take it from someone who’s already her wasted time whining & grieving about the 3-hour drive to the nearest gal pal:
Post Grad Life, Year Two // You will have a life again, I promise.
All you have to do is make a move. My tips for friend making (should I put butterfly stickers in this post…?) – but seriously:
1. Where there’s one, there are more. Everyone feels awkward making new friends right out of college. Relax. Put yourself out there and you’ll usually like what you get in return.
2. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. This will drive you crazy. Be the one to set up drinks with co-workers or brunch with a neighbor.
3. Join something you’re interested in. Larger cities usually have intramural leagues, fashion organizations, book clubs, or charities to get involved in. How easy is that?
4. Back away from the bestie. I love my best friends, but moving to a city where most everyone was a phone call away helped me grow more than I knew at the time. I had to cast myself out there in hopes that someone (anyone!) would reel me in. A lot of the time, I see this “no new friends” hashtag on social media referencing the fact that post-grad happy hours include the same people as post-exam power hours. If that is the case for you, cheers – but proceed with caution. There is something to be valued in being on your own. If you always have a shoulder holding you up what is going to happen when that shoulder leaves?
If you find yourself having happy hours for one, take a page from my book. Step out of your comfort zone and take a risk. You never know what fun or new friends you may find…