Remember how easy it was to make friends in Kindergarten? Two 5-year olds who like eating glue = immediate bond. Even that may be stretching it, when I was 5 I’m pretty sure my entire class and their Mom’s were invited to my birthday parties. Seemingly it used to be a whole lot easier to make friends.
Can you spot me? Hint: I’m the really unhappy one…
In the last several years I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to make new friends. I was incredibly lucky to be one of those people who just always had them. I only changed schools once when I was 12 and even then the transition just seemed a whole lot easier. I was fortunate to have attended schools where my friend groups were basically facilitated for me. Emphasis was put on involvement and being an active contributor to school life and I was also a part of after-school activities that allowed me to connect with people with similar interests. Around 18 when I left for university things seemed to change. Having a social life all of a sudden became work.
I’m not going to pretend like the transition from high-school to university (college for you American folk) was easy. Canadian schools are MUCH different than American ones. There’s very limited greek life, non-existent organized sports teams (except hockey) and just a very poor support system. I also happened to choose the one school in Canada where being involved made you less cool. Alcohol was the main way to make friends (the drinking age is 18 in Montreal) and while I love getting my booze on now and then I had been hoping to connect with other people on a slightly less intoxicated level. All the structure that I’d had to help me make friends was gone! The first year was rocky, but over the course of 4 years I was able to make and foster some amazing friendships. But it certainly was not a walk in the park…
Miss this girl! And Montreal chills 🙂
I am the type of person who is perfectly happy with my alone time. I have never needed to be surrounded by people. I am quite capable and comfortable with occupying my “me” time. This also means that I tend to shy away from social situations if they might remotely put me out of my comfort-zone. Why make myself uncomfortable when I could just hang out with myself? Great attitude right? I knew it was time for a change and a move to NYC seemed like the perfect opportunity.
It was like I took on a whole new personality. All of sudden I was saying yes to meeting up with my Mom’s friend’s cousin’s cat’s groomer’s brother who also happens to live in The City. “Friend dates” were happening most nights of the week and the word “yes” came out of my mouth far more frequently than “no”. And you know what? It totally worked. I should add that I also happened to have friends and family who lived in and around NYC before I got there so it wasn’t all completely new, but my attitude certainly was and I absolutely reaped the benefits.
Sam let’s move back to NYC k?
Making new friends required me to stick my neck out, say yes to every invitation and be the initiator of plans even if it made me uncomfortable. Seeing myself be successful at all of these things certainly gave me the boost of confidence I needed to “make it” in the greatest city in the world.
It also taught me an important lesson, it wasn’t easier to make friends when we were in kindergarten, we just thought less about it. Saying things like “I like you”, “we should be friends”, “let’s make a playdate”.
I certainly have a list of things I need to work on and in the last several years have put in a significant effort to work on many of them. Some I have failed at, namely lashing out when I’m anxious or hangry, being a maven, and my horrific driving skills, but I can confidently say that making new friends is no longer on this list.