In my reader survey responses, a few of you asked about how I made friends as a twenty-something after college/how to make friends in a big city/how to make new friends. I am very lucky—in the four years I’ve been out of college, I’ve been able to keep in touch with some of my best friends from previous chapters of life and meet a slew of wonderful new friends that bring so much joy and a jammed packed social calendar to my life. (My personality type is ENTJ if that tells you anything.)
I will say, right before I graduated college, I remember being so anxious that fourth year would be the last time in my life that I lived the same place as all my friends. Which, now looking back, I think that particular time of transition was bringing out my biggest fear, which is being truly alone and unloved.
Someone older and wiser than me told me that was the wrong way to look at things—that wherever I moved, I’d make friends there, and then all my friends would live in the same place as me again. And the friends that didn’t live there, well, that would make for an easy way to pick weekend getaway vacations.
I didn’t really believe her at the time, but she was so right. While I have some amazing friends who live in New York, San Francisco, heck even Loudoun County, I’ve found that for the most part, I live in the same place as all my friends again.
So, I thought today I’d share the different ways I met the majority of my closest friends in case you are looking to meet friends in a new city, want to expand your friend group or social calendar, or are just plain curious.
COLLEGE + HIGH SCHOOL FRIENDS /
I’m lucky that many of my good college friends, and to a lesser extent, high school friends I still keep in touch with, live in the Arlington/DC area, too.
I went to high school in Fairfax, Virginia, about 40 minutes outside of Washington, DC. I then went to college in Charlottesville, Virginia, and moved to Arlington, Virginia—where I live now!—after graduation. The path I took is definitely not unique—many UVA kids end up in the DC Metro area, and many former Northern Virginia high schoolers do, too. I regularly end up at bars with people I went to high school with, run into college classmates on the Metro, and though he’s not a 20-something millennial, I once ran into my Uncle in the sweetgreen lunch line a block away from my office.
My point is—my connections in the area run deep, and as much as I wish sometimes I lived somewhere warmer or had been more adventurous and moved somewhere new-to-me after graduation, I know I am very lucky and do not take it for granted that I am able to continually hang out with the friends I knew when I was younger.
This group of friends is probably the squad Ihang out with the most—besides my work friends, because, duh, we spend 40 hours a week together—and the people I generally turn to with my biggest problems. We have a shared history, shared academic experiences, and know many of the same people. In short, we roll deep.
WORK FRIENDS /
I’ve talked about it here before—and if you follow me on Instagram Stories you know—I spend an inordinate amount of time with my coworkers. Not because we work 100 hours a week, but because we are all great friends.
We’re fortunate to work in an office that encourages and supports team building so much from 9-5, that we’re always making plans for 5-9, too. I mean, let’s be real—I went to Punta Cana earlier this year with my team at work. I wouldn’t drop $800 on a vacation to hang with my coworkers—but I sure would to hang with my friends.
I realize that my work situation is unique in that there are lots of fellow 20-something associates and young executives to befriend, which is not always the case. I also know not all offices are as camaraderie-driven as mine. Plus, at the end of the day, these are people you work with 5-days a week. Though I consider my coworkers my “real friends,” I definitely have some boundaries in place to keep things above the board and professional so that we don’t run into sticky situations at work. I also am very conscious to take a break and skip a work outing here and there so that I’m not with these folks 24/7—because that’s not good for anyone!
If you don’t have many people around your age in the office that you could befriend, I recommend getting out and about in your work neighborhood. I regularly see the same people out at popular lunch spots and in my office building. In fact, I actually met Monica‘s old roommate in the elevator of my building and struck up a small friendship with her before I even met Monica. A small and a hello can go a long way!
BLOGGING FRIENDS /
When I first started blogging, it was a pretty solitary activity. Overtime, I started following more DC bloggers on Twitter and Instagram, and interacting with their accounts. Finally, I worked up the courage to ask Alicia out for happy hour. The next month, she brought me to an event where I met Kristyn.
The following month, Kristyn invited me to a DC blogging event called Blogger Scene, that I almost didn’t even go to since I was working in Baltimore, Maryland that day and had to drive back into DC. But, my FOMO kicked in, and since I really, really wanted to meet more bloggers, I made the drive through rush hour traffic to the event.
It was really nerve wracking going in only knowing one other person—that I had only met once!—but that one event paid off so much. It was at that event I met Jenn, Bree, and Monica—here’s a vintage picture of us, back when I was a brunette—and through and with them at subsequent events and happy hours, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many other wonderful DC bloggers—and even travel with them to Charleston, not once, but twice. Now when I introduce many of these gals, I just refer to them as “friend”—I don’t even preface it with “blogger” anymore.
If you don’t have a blog or don’t want to meet your friends on the Internet like I did, never fear. The moral of the story above is that all it takes is one friend with a shared interest to help you go out and meet other friends that share that interest—whether it be running, knitting, baking, swimming, photography, ice sculpting, you name it.
THROUGH MY “THIRD PLACE” /
I mentioned the concept of a third place in this post, and Hilary and I had a great discussion on this idea when we were in Miami. We came to the conclusion—along with many other scholars before us—that it is really important to have a third place that you go to regularly and, ideally, really enjoy. This third place is a good way to get new social capital—i.e. weak ties for all you fellow sociology folks at home—and make new friends. (Good examples from pop culture are the Cheers bar or Central Perk in Friends.)
Since I moved to Arlington in fall 2013, I’ve had several different third places, all of which provided opportunities for me to meet friends:
- For the first year and a half or so after graduation, I played in a DC kickball or bocce league pretty much anytime one was offered. This was a great way to meet new people and work together with them on a common goal. Admittedly, my friends and I signed up for quite a few of these leagues to meet DC’s most eligible bachelors—sadly, that’s not a story any of us will be telling at our weddings.
- Needless to say, while grad school wasn’t always a relaxing third place, it was my third place for a solid two years. I made several great friends through my program that I still make an effort to catch up with regularly.
- Most recently, I’ve been hopping on the boutique fitness trend. I regularly attend spin class in Arlington, and since I am a creature of habit, generally take the same weekly classes and try to sit on the same bike. Other regulars do the same, and I’m starting to get to know some of the gals who also love to ride!
If you have any advice on how to make new friends or have a similar—or widely different!—story, please feel free to share in the comments! x