There are many great things that come with being done with school: no more homework, tests, out-of-touch professors, or uncomfortable chairs. However, there is one area of life that gets immeasurably harder once school ends: Making New Friends.
For the first 22, or so, years of a therapist’s life, friends are naturally provided by her environment. Whether it be in classes, internships, or clinical rotations, people of like-mind just seem to grow on trees. That’s why, upon graduation, it can feel like we are living in a friendship desert with no oasis in sight.
Of course, scarcity is just one reason why adults have a harder time making friends than their younger counterparts. Adults are also more likely to have had friendships go south, making us jaded in the process. Plus, as we get older, we know ourselves better, which might make us pickier about who we want to spend our time with. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make for slim-pickins sometimes.
So, how are we supposed to make friends as an adult?
First, decide what kind of friendships you are looking for. Remember, you don’t have to be best friends with every soul on the street. Maybe you would like to have some people to do dinner with once a month, or maybe you just want someone with whom you can consult on cases. As adults, we probably need to broaden our idea of what it means to be friends with someone, since we (hopefully), won’t be spending all of our time braiding each-other’s hair anymore.
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to put yourself out there! Try attending group activities that highlight your interests. Go to a Zumba class, or sign up for a 5K, or a walking group. Take art lessons, or volunteer at a local animal shelter. Anything that gets you out of your house and in contact with other people will do.
Once you are engaging in your new activity, notice who you are drawn to. Set social goals for yourself, like, asking one member of the group for their phone number so you can start texting. Nobody calls anyone anymore, so you’d better get comfortable with how to send emojis.
Speaking of newish technology, you can also nurture relationships through social media. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with both, old, and new friends, so use it to your advantage.
Whichever way you choose to grow your social sphere, remember that doing so really is good for you. As in, it could help you live longer or weather negative experiences more easily. But, you didn’t need research to tell you that, did you? You probably wouldn’t even be reading this post if you didn’t have some soul-soothing memories of fabulous friendship moments. That’s why we want you to remember two things:
- You are not alone in finding it hard to make friends as an adult, and,
- Your new friend could be looking for you as we speak. As Rumi says, “Whatever you seek, is also seeking you.”
Therapy Hive exists not just for increased referrals, but also as a place to make true connections with like-minded people. Who knows, this might just turn into a place to make friends, too!