“Making friends after college is hard!” At least that is what I have been hearing from other twentysomethings. College gave us unrealistic expectations of how social interactions in the adult world would go. So let’s talk about these expectations college gave us and how to make friends in the real world!
1. College ISN’T Real Life
College is absolutely awesome! Did it have its ups and downs? Yes
Did I love the overwhelming majority of it? Also Yes!
The best part of college was that it was so easy to make connections with people. If you wanted to make a friend it was as easy as walking into the Student Union and talking to someone. If you didn’t want to go all the way to the Union you could stay near your room. You could pull a chair outside your room and talk to people as they walked by. I actually made a lot of friends first and second year doing that!
Everything about college from living in such close proximity, to group projects in class, to communal dining halls almost forced you to be social. From the moment your RA has your first hall meeting, everything is done to try and breed social interactions. Most colleges are their own community. They have restaurants, laundry, stores, coffee shops, libraries, post offices, gyms, and entertainment areas. If they didn’t kick you out of the dorms for holidays you would never have to leave!
This post about the end of college talks all about why people aren’t ready to live in the “real world”, click here Every Fall!
I was an RA and 85% of my job was making sure that my residents had friends, and could be social on the floor. So it was literally someone’s job to make sure you were being social and had friends!
After spending 4 YEARS in this controlled and coordinated social environment, it is no surprise that we have trouble making friends in the real world. It would be shocking if we didn’t.
The real world is not exactly set up for the same amount of social interactions. And to add to it no one really cares whether or not you have friends out here! Ugh!!!
2. Being Social in the Real World is Hard
There are no magical RAs to force you to come to social events. Work is basically all day and they probably don’t want you talking to people there. Then you drive home, eat, and sleep so that you can prepare for the next day.
Welcome to the Real World!!!
That’s why I think part-time jobs are the best for recent grads, checkout that post here!
Ok, it is probably not that bleak. However, it is very easy to forget that once you graduate you have to make more of a conscious effort to add social time into your day. Even if you are tired, you may have to head to the bar after work with some coworkers. You need to make those friends so that way you have people that you can call up on the weekends.
In college, it was pretty easy to find people that had similar interests. My school had 1,000+ clubs on campus. There was a club for everything I could think of. If there wasn’t a club for you, then you could make your own!
Don’t worry you aren’t the only one having this issue, so there will definitely be other people looking for friends! Let’s talk about where you should look!
"It's a MILLENNIAL Thing!"
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3. Where To Go And What To Do!
Try and mimic what you did to make friends in college. The best way to make friends is to do the things that you like to do, and then talk to the people there.
For example, I like to go to my community gym. I run everyday or every other day. Running is usually a solo activity, but in the winter it is too cold to run outside. So sometimes when I am at the gym and see people around my age I will try and strike up a conversation. It doesn’t always happen, but the gym is a part of my routine and I use that to meet people.
Meeting people at work is also a great way to start. You are there anyway so you might as well make it a little more bearable by having some friends!
Don’t Underestimate your Phone
Your phone can do a lot of things! Guess what? It can even help you make friends!!!
Obviously you know about texting the people that you meet in order to form friendships. But there are apps that are specifically catered to helping you meet people.
My favorite is Meetup!
They really needs to start sponsoring me, I talk about them all the time! This is their mission statement:
Getting together with real people in real life makes powerful things happen. Side hustles become careers, ideas become movements, and chance encounters become lifelong connections. Meetup brings people together to create thriving communities. (Meetup.com)
When you go out to drinks or on your first meetup be sure to get people’s contact info!
Always have a way to contact the new friends you are making. I actually mention this in the post How to Keep Up With College Friends! Head over there to read that post!
4. Trying to Replace the Old Crew
Not even possible! You just can’t do it, so there’s no point in talking to anyone right?… WRONG!
Yes, your old crew is very special, and finding people to fill the exact spots that each member of your old crew did will be difficult to impossible. That’s why I have this post on How to Keep Up With Friends from College.
But finding clones of your friends from school should not be your goal when making new friends. Stay with me!
If you always have the “same” group of friends then you aren’t growing! Every time you make new friends is an opportunity for someone to bring something new to your life. Imagine all the people and experiences that you’d miss out on if you only ever hung out with the same people. You really have no idea what you are missing if you close yourself off to people just because they aren’t exactly like your old friends.
I realized this fairly recently. I had been trying to fill the same positions that my college friends were occupying. It just doesn’t work! I may have pushed a couple people away because they didn’t quite fit the mold. But I will do better in the future and I hope you do too!
5. Why Wait?
Not sure about all of you, but sometimes I feel like I have to wait to do things. Not for any particular reason, but sometimes I will hold myself back. Maybe it isn’t the right time, or I should probably start making friends next week.
It’s too cold, no one is going out… Really?…It’s too cold for friends?…
Stop listening to the noise! If you get out there; Yes, it is a possibility that someone won’t like you, or want to be your friend. Guess what? There are about 7.5 billion other people that might love to make your acquaintance! The ones that don’t go so well are just practice for the ones that do.
Finding friends after college is not easy. College basically trained us to expect unrealistic social interactions. However, making new friends doesn’t have to be really hard. This is the way I have been making friends since graduation and it is going pretty well.