Monday, July 30, 2018

5 Tips For Making New Friends After 30




I'd like to share 5 tips for making new friends after 30 with you today, but before I do, I need to start today's post with a confession.  Are you ready?  Here goes...

This weekend I crashed a 30th high school reunion party with a group of my girlfriends.  

Wait, wait!  Before you think terrible things about me, let me give you the details...

Several months ago, the ladies from my church small group decided that we needed a girls' weekend.  Sign me up! was my initial thought.  We were planning to head to Mystic, Connecticut, a place I had always wanted to visit, but had never gotten around to it.  One of our friends even had Marriott points we could use for our rooms to make it affordable for everyone - things were working out perfectly!

But as the time drew nearer for our girls' getaway to start, I began to feel somewhat nervous.  While I had been hanging out with most of these ladies for about two years in a small group setting or occasional dinner out, doing a whole weekend together was a new experience entirely.  As I packed, my thoughts were a mix of how fun it would be to spend so much time together, and how nervous I was to head away for a weekend with a relatively new group of friends.

Long story short, I had nothing to worry about (isn't that usually how it goes?).  We had an amazing weekend sampling wines at a beautiful vineyard, eating delicious seafood, sharing our hearts with each other, and yes...crashing a high school reunion....you didn't think I had forgotten to finish that story, did you?

Upon our arrival back to the hotel after dinner Saturday night, we were headed to the elevator when all of the sudden we heard loud 80's music (I want to say it was "Poison" by Bel Biv Devoe but it's hard to say for sure).  Thinking it was a wedding reception, we headed toward the music, joking that it would be hilarious to crash the wedding.  Not that we would, of course!  Outside the ballroom where the music was bumpin' was a sign that indicated it was Fitch High Class of '88's party.

For some reason, the thought of crashing a 30th high school reunion was hilarious to us (since most of us were 6 in 1988) and 3 out of the 6 of us decided to further investigate.  We only stayed for a moment or two (just long enough to assess that no one was really dancing - come on, Fitch High alum!!) before I caught the stink eye from a woman and we high- tailed it outta there!  

I talk a good game, but I'm really a goody-two shoes scaredy cat at heart.

Giggling all the way up to the hotel room, I realized something:  these girls were my friends...no longer new friends, but real friends.  Friends who insisted I call them the minute we get our foster care call so they can bring us anything we might need, friends who know each other's struggles and strengths, and friends who I can truly be myself around.  Such a relief - and such a gift!

Last week, I did an Instagram Live about overcoming social awkwardness, feeling like you're not good enough, and making new friends after 30 after a dear reader reached out to say she had been struggling in these areas.  As I responded to her concerns, I realized that we could all maybe use a refresher course on making friends when we're not surrounded by tons of people our own age, as we were in high school or college.  

If you just read that and thought, "yep, the struggle is real," here are 5 tips to help you make new friends after 30:

1. Get over social awkwardness - My friends, we are ALL awkward.  We are.  You are, I am, every single human is.  Why?  Because we're all different - and that's a good thing!  Often, when we meet someone, it feels awkward because our minds usually go to "I want to make a good impression" and "what do they think of me?"  Almost immediately after we meet someone, we feel we have to be the best, most polished version of ourselves in hopes that this person will like us.  Believe me, as a recovering people pleaser, I totally get it. But the sooner we realize we are all perfectly imperfect, showing up and doing the best we can in each and every circumstance, the sooner our concerns about social awkwardness will fly the coop.  If it helps, rather than beat myself up for something I said that didn't come out the right way (which happens more than I would care to admit!), I simply tell myself:  that went exactly how it was supposed to go.  After all, it's in the past, I can't take it back, and perhaps there was some greater reason for it.  Also, there's nothing you can say that you can't take back or ask forgiveness for.  So there's that.

2. Realize that you actually ARE good enough - So much of social anxiety stems from feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.  For some reason, our minds have a tendency to fixate on the social situations where things didn't go right, rather than when they did.  And then that darned negative self-talk takes over and tries to win the day.  If you can relate, try reminding yourself of what you bring to the table in a friendship.  Actually do the work it will take to love and accept yourself, and reduce your negative self-talk.  

Need extra help with self-love?  I made you a free printable for that!
   
   
   
   
   


3.  Remember that real friendships take time - We want what we want, and we want it now.  I know.  Usually when people start to question their ability to make friends, it's because they are already feeling lonely or isolated.  If that's where you are today, I hear you.  It's ok to feel that way today.  Remember that anything worth having will take some time, and friendships are no exception.  It took literally two years of meeting in a small group setting for my friends and I to feel like we were comfortable enough to do a girls weekend together!  Be patient - making friends is about the long game.  Just because you feel lonely today doesn't mean you will feel that way forever.  One step, one day at a time is the way to cultivate meaningful friendships.

4. Put yourself in situations where you will meet new people - This may seem obvious, and yet this is the advice that will send most people running for the hills.  Why?  Because it means you will have to put yourself out there.  You might have to join a group or a club.  You might have to be around lots of people you don't know.  And that makes people feel awkward and uncomfortable (see # 1).  But the truth is, if you want to make new friends, you have to put yourself out there a bit.  You have to get out of your comfort zone .  Think about a hobby you've been wanting to try or something you'd like to improve at.  Scan your church bulletin for gatherings you could show up to and maybe meet some new people.  Then, actually go - take a class, join a team, or head to that potluck.  Yes, it will feel uncomfortable, but again - if you aren't willing to change anything, then nothing will ever change.

5. Be the hostess with the mostess - If you are really serious about making new friends after 30, you're probably going to need to bust out your own coffee mugs (or wine glasses) and invite some people over.  Don't wait for people to include you or invite you to a party - or worse, feel bad when they don't.  Simply think of some people with whom you are acquaintances and plan a get-together.  It could be a playdate at the park, a ladies night, book club, or whatever else you would like.  Be creative and assertive - if you want new friends, there are probably plenty of casual acquaintances in your life who feel the same way, but they're too nervous to host anything.  Beat them to the punch and do it yourself!

I hope these tips will help you feel better about making new friends after 30.  It's not easy, and it will take some work, but if you're willing to commit the time and energy to it, I guarantee you'll be crashing a 30th reunion with some true friends in no time.  

Unless, of course, you think that's crazy and ridiculous and not really your thing, in which case I'll refer you to point # 1 and just say:  that went exactly as it was supposed to go.  ;)


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