It’s no secret that friends are the key to getting through tough times. But what happens when the tough times are what is keeping you from making friends?
In Arizona, it seems like everyone “just moved here and are looking for some new friends,” have you noticed that? And the pandemic did not stop that from being true. Hell, I’ve been here over a year now and I still feel like I’m trying to make friends. I think it just gets harder to make friends as you get older. People become very invested in themselves and become more closed off in public. There is also this wariness of strangers that people didn’t have 50 years ago.
So add the normal difficulty that adults have making friends to the quarantine culture of 2020 and it can start to feel really lonely out there! My normal method of making friends has been to go out to events and participate in the community. Understandably, that’s not much of an option anymore. So I’ve spent the last several months adjusting my technique and – while it’s not the same – it’s working out a little better than I expected.
First thing I did was join an online group. This is easier than you think. There are a million platforms that support this kind of interaction and there are perfectly safe ways to join without being stalked or catfished. My favorite is through Facebook. There are groups for everything! The best groups are the ones with active admin that make you answer questions and check your profile before adding you to the group.
How I found the one I like most is through a podcast I listen to. If you listen to my show or follow me on social media, you know I’m kind of obsessed with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. So it probably wouldn’t surprise you that I listen to a podcast called “Scrubbing In”. It’s hosted by another radio queen, Tanya Rad and former contestant on The Bachelor, Becca Tilley. Surprisingly they don’t actually spend a lot of time talking about ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. It’s turned into more of a lifestyle/advice/celebrity interview kind of podcast where they will recap the latest Grey’s news for a couple minutes.
ANYWAY they started a Facebook group for their listeners to join and interact with each other. From that group which has thousandssssssss of people, spawn a lot of mini Facebook book groups where the listeners could safely join more personal topic oriented groups with a community they are already familiar with. Right before I moved to Arizona, I joined the Scrubbing In Arizona group. One of my now, best friends is someone I met through that group- along with several other lovely ladies. They plan little meet ups and things like that all the time. Since I’m pregnant I’m not really going out and interacting with large groups right now just as a safety precaution to COVID19, but it’s still a great place to interact with people and maybe grab a tea with someone kind of familiar in the area.
From there I joined a couple other sub group that spawned off. Those ones aren’t just people in the area so it’s stricly online interaction- which is kind of the main option these days. The Motherhood subgroup is my most recent join and has REALLY helped my mental health while on this pregnancy journey during a pandemic.
The point of sharing all of that with you is to show that joining a group like this IS helpful. You just have to find one that suits your interest and has community of like minds. You can probably find one local to you that will give you the potential to meet some genuine friends if you do some digging!
Here is another easy one to during this pandemic – make friends with your grocer. Hear me out, this is actually the smartest move ever! ALWAYS make friends with your local grocer, butcher, and anyone else that helps you with your buys. Not only will you get the best cuts and deals but they will normally let you know when something delicious has arrived that is right up your alley! Food is a love language and your local owner is passionate about their products and want to talk to you about them. Be friends with your grocer and let the friendship blossom into something tasty!
OK, this one is going to take some bravery and some finesse. Slide into people’s DMs. First of all let me say, there are non-creepy ways to do this and start a friendship! I’m not promoting the DM bootycall. I’ve used this as a legit form to start some valuable friendships. If you are a guy now thinking about this to a woman- please avoid a compliment in your first slide. No matter how you mean it, it’s an immediate shut down. Also, don’t send three in a row.
What you should do is make sure it’s not entirely random. Have a mutual friend, a mutual place you hangout, mutual work, etc. I normally start off by watching their daily stories and reply to something I would reply to if they were already my friend. Normally it’s about food if I’m being honest. React to memes you think are funny, or ask about the book they are reading. That kind of stuff.
I promise I have made many a girlfriend from doing this! Fellow powerful ladies in radio, locals that listen to the station, acquaintances of the past are all people I’ve been able to connect with through this method that has been deemed as “creepy.” Just have some etiquette.
This one won’t actually make you new friends, but it’s to help you from losing the ones you already have during a time when you can’t hangout with them like you used to. Keep in touch with the friends you have already. Something so simple but not something that is practiced very often. I think maybe because we feel like we are interacting with them a lot from seeing their posts on social media but it’s NOT the same thing and certainly isn’t a way to keep the friendship alive. How often are you the first to reach out?
A simple phone call, text, hand written letter is all it takes to remind those special people in your life how much they mean to you. It takes very little time out of your day and that connection probably means more to them than you know. When they reach out to you or send you something in the mail- you probably light up. It might make your whole week. But are you ever willing to return the love? Friendship should never be reliant on one person keeping things up. I’m one of those people that does that and it’s incredibly emotionally draining to feel like you don’t have friends unless you are the person reaching out and setting things up. Pick up the slack with your friends this week. Relationships do require some work. I hate those stupid phrases that say they should be effortless and breezy. What great bond has ever been formed and maintained without upkeep?
For a lot of people this one could be even scarier than sliding into people’s DMs… Be open to the possibilities around you. People are so closed off in public. Again, it’s the fear we have of stranger danger and sometimes it’s an introverted personality. Often it’s just getting caught up in yourself and forgetting there is a whole world of people around you going through stuff too.
We need to move towards coming out of our little “leave me alone” domes when we are in public. This doesn’t mean you need to start being a chatty Cathy but it does mean there is nothing wrong with sharing a smile or a nod to someone sharing an aisle with you. To offer to reach something on a high shelf for someone short. When you stop looking at your feet when you walk, you’ll become aware of all these people around you that aren’t out to get you. They are out to make friends – well, some of them.
Shoo people off less often. Slow down, take a beat and acknowledge those around you. You will make more friends without trailing that stanky air around you. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.
The world is a little different this year. That means making friends is going to be a little different this year too. Try some new things even if they are outside your comfort zone. The best version of yourself doesn’t exist inside of a box anway.