As millennials, we’re constantly being shaped by social media and its influencers. Midst full engagement with our social media outlets, with full capacity to reach anyone we want to reach, we feel isolated. Not only do we feel alone, but so as long full engagement with social media takes a stronghold in our lives, we take little time for self-discovery. I mean, how can we self-discover when we spend our days discovering the lives of others?
Without knowing completely who we are, or even who we want to be, (how could we when influencers display so many various types of lifestyles that are just. so. epic.), we rely on what our social media platform says about who we are; this makes it difficult to connect with others IRL. As we become more and more involved with our social media tools, as they entwine with our work lives, or the business of being ourselves, we feel more and more alone.
I experienced this feeling of aloneness myself, when I moved to Boston. And this feeling of isolation hit me so hard that I had to write about it in my book, Dare To Move.
***Not a writer? Here are other things you can do when you suspect you’re having a quarter-life crisis!
IRL I was moved by a job from Chicago to Boston. The moment the company asked me to move, I knew things were going to change. I assumed my life as I knew it was over because I had no friends on the East Coast. As I began to grieve my beloved city of Chicago weeks before the move, the hopeful side of me turned to Instagram and Facebook and began to connect with people I knew in Chicago, online, more than ever. It’s like I wanted to test it out, before leaving them completely.
However, a year into Boston, I could still see my former community members online and like their posts, but without the face-to-face, day-to-day contact, I really didn’t feel as close to them anymore. The Chicago fitness community I was knew was now a bunch of acquaintances and there I stood the onlooker to their lives. Of course my best friends stayed my best friends, but even those relationships were challenged, plagued with yearning for real-life hangouts and life updates that couldn’t happen until the busy week was over. I knew it was up to me to make connections in Boston, but my midwestern vibe didn’t always mesh with the New Englander style of friendship making at first. For a while I figured that I must simply be a loner.
Come to find out, my book– with this theme of real-life community seeking within it– became an icebreaker for me. During the writing process, I spoke about it often and revealed to my new friends and acquaintances that part of why I decided to write this book was because I wanted other people to know that they are not alone in this feeling. It’s normal to get lonely. And to you reading this: I can assure you, making adult friends is hard! But don’t give up. It took me over a year of trying to figure out the whole friend-ship making thing… but eventually it worked! I found community.
I’ve decided to give you three tips for making real-life, adult friends:
Smile at strangers
This sounds creepy and awkward and honestly, it is…. but only at first! The crux of this tip is that you must stick your neck out. You have to make attempts and be vulnerable when you’re new to a city or town. The good news? A smile is free and it’s not a very risky move, like, at all. Pick a person who is also alone, or a person in a group of friends/people that look like you! Smile, and if they make eye-contact and smile back for more than a millisecond, walk over to them. Ask them how their day is. If they open up to more conversation, awesome! Break the ice about where they are headed, or what they are gonna do at the place you’re both standing. If it’s the gym, ask about their workouts etc. It’s never smooth in new conversation. In my experience, a lot of little hellos and smiles transform into lots of little conversational exchanges over time and in a few months you have a friend. And, from a blog I love, here’s another perspective on how-to make friends after college from Gen Twenty.
Never turn down an invitation
There’s gonna be people who stick their necks out, too. In my experience, when living this rule, I attended several barbecues, bar meet-ups and beach days with people I never actually became friends with, but that’s the nature of the game. And even though I didn’t always win friendships, I had a lot of fun with nice people.That’s the thing…. when seeking community, there will be a lot of firsts. First times at “x” bar. First time venturing to a new area of town for a house party in a house of which you’ll never see again, or maybe you’ll end up partying there for years to come! You won’t know at first, or for for a while, so say “yes” to all invitations and don’t make assumptions too soon. Let the brewing friendships simmer. Also! Here are some friend date ideas from a blog I love!
We are the children of the app generation, so why not use them!? I met a few guy friends via Bumble and through some awkward dates that turned into group hangouts, I met some cool girls and tried out some pretty sick restaurants. I am here to tell you that there is NO SHAME in using apps to meet people. Bumble changed their dating app to have a Bumble Business offering for networking and Bumble Friend offering, so there are truly are legit, non-dating options. Me personally? I used Meet-Up.com! Through Meet-Up, I was able to join a rec beach volleyball league and meet some nice people who never became friends but made for summer fun! It’s cheap too! I also found my writer’s group and thereafter met my editor through the writer’s group leader. I promise you, apps will be worth your time!
GO FIND COMMUNITY!
This article is not meant to tell you that making adult friends is easy. It’s not to tell you that you can make friends over night, or that moving to a new city alone is easy. None of the aforementioned is simple. However, you are not alone. We are all struggling to find ourselves in a world where social media tells us how we should be, and we measure our lives via our digital personas, as they stack up with other platforms. It sucks. But I can promise you that if you spend time IRL smiling at people and going to social events, your social media life will be more “real” like mine was before I left Chicago, and how it is now. The time in between? I had social media friends I didn’t know, and felt estranged form my long-distance college friends who weren’t very active on IG at the time. Now I have social media friends who I see around a Boston, fitness friends whom I’ve connected with online, social media influencers whom I met with at coffee shops in Boston for real face time. It’s not effortless, but it’s possible. And to end the feeling of isolation? You gotta do whatever it takes!
If this article struck a chord with you, my book Dare To Move will strike and even bigger one. Pre-order it here, today!
P.S. If you liked this article, check out my article, “Millennials: seeking passion.”