If there’s one thing that my friends and I talk about often it’s this: how the hell do you make new friends in your twenties? What we were once forced into throughout schooling now seems like an impossible feat. Throw in a bit of added technology – phones, laptops, tinder – and it doesn’t leave room for much genuine long-term interaction.
I’d never worried about this until I came back from Europe. Between my university friends moving away, my other friends getting into relationships and being unemployed it seemed kind of impossible to figure out. Most of the people who were still around were friends I felt like I’d outgrown after travelling (cliché but true) and it was time to make a change. By change I mean “grow a pair” and go make some new friends.
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In true 23-year-old fashion my first thought was the obvious: go out A LOT. And I went out A LOT. First it was cool meeting new people who my friends had gained that summer while I was away. It really just left me with a lot of acquaintances you’d say hi to on the street that didn’t feel like your friends. I think it’s really true when they say you have to make friends on your own. Also, the amount of days I spent in bed with a killer hangover made it completely not worth it. When summer ended I was right back to where I’d started friends-wise – that’s when I packed up once again and moved to Sydney.
Sydney was really when I had my ‘uh huh’ moment when it kind of clicked. When I moved there I didn’t know a single person. It was my fresh start and with it, completely new friends. I was lucky that a girl I’d met once overseas a couple of years’ prior had a space in her flat the week I got there and so I messaged her right away saying I’d take it. It went quickly from there – to lunches, dinners and nights out trying to meet as many people as possible.
I jumped on pretty much any opportunity there was to met people or go out. I didn’t click with anyone at work so I tried extra hard to say yes to any chance I’d get outside of it. When I left Sydney I had pretty solid friends and a home I felt really comfortable in, the complete opposite of my life just three months earlier. I also left pretty broke – Sydney drink prices you killed me.
So after a few moves and a few years I’ve learnt some tricks to making new friends that actually stick. We don’t want no fake friends – amiright? I should preface this advice by saying I am in no way the most confident person in a room when I walk in, so don’t be sitting there thinking “oh, it’s so easy for you though” because it’s not. I always try to remember: be friendly, don’t act like a dick and people will like you. More seriously though, if you do struggle to make friends I think the book ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie’ is a great read to remind you how simple it is to engage with people positively. We’re all kind of the same, you know?
Say yes to everything and everyone.
Within reason, obviously. Honestly, it’s really hard to not like someone who says yes to you all the time. It’s also the easiest way to set yourself up to being open to new experiences. I know it’s easier to just want to stay home and chill but you know – all the best things happen outside your comfort zone.
I’ve also met some of my favourite people in weird situations that I didn’t plan. For example: when I became really close with my friend Lauren. She was actually a mutual friend of mine that I knew, but not well. I was meant to be staying at our mutual friends house when I moved to London to help me out while I found a job – until she dumped me at Lauren’s door. After ushering a pretty much stranger in with open arms and letting me over-stay my welcome, Lauren and I are became super close. I guess that’s what sleeping on the floor of someones bedroom for a month will do to you.
Try new things and volunteer your time – literally.
Someone asked me on Tumblr the other day what hobbies you can find in your 20’s and there are so many! It might be awkward to start with, but joining a social sports team is a fun way to meet new people. Also, if you already have a hobby you can totally DM someone on Instagram that shares yours. Go get coffee! I’ve met so many people doing this just since I’ve moved to Auckland and it’s like the 21st century way of claiming back some of your social life (because we all know Instagram has robbed a lot of it).
Another hobby everyone can try is volunteering. It’s a great way to meet new people and giving back at the same time. Shout out to my friend Renee did this in New York recently and recommended it to me. She met cool new friends there that were completely different to the group she sees everyday. Sometimes I think it’s easy to run in the same circles as everyone you know, but such a range of people volunteer so you’re bound to meet someone new. Plus, did I mention the giving back part?
Make an effort when you’re sober.
Look, we all know you just can’t make friends drunk. Like dating – it’s never going to last more than the night. You get your weird beer goggles on. Next thing: you’re in the bathroom making friends with some girl that’s bitching about what Cindy did to her in front of her fuck-boy. We don’t want no fake friends, remember?
Basically you need to (no matter how awkward you feel) reach out and ask to do something with new friends when you’re sober. I don’t think you can ever really be friends with someone until you’ve gone through all the awkward “so what’s your story?” type questions and that never happens when you’re drunk. Or at the very least, you forget them. Asking them over a drink, however, is totally fine.
Ignore your friends and stay open-minded.
Sometimes I think people forget that we are all different. You can have different friends that won’t get a long. I have the most scattered friends and friend groups. Older and younger. But I love them all for different reasons – it doesn’t mean any are better or worse.
When you look back at high school or university it’s easy to forget that the people we ended up being friends with weren’t probably the best choice at the time. Sometimes it’s easy as liking the same food that gets a conversation started – not necessarily the important things. For this reason, when we’re older and more aware I feel like it’s easy to over think how easy it can be to make quality friends.
I experienced this recently when I became friends with someone a few years younger than me at work. People seemed to think it’s weird because of the age difference, even though I’m also friends with people older at work of the same age gap. If you click with someone you click, simple as that.
I think a big turn off to people is when their friends won’t accept the new person as their own friend, but that needs to be for you to judge. We all have different tolerances, opinions and values and they’re never going to completely align with everyone. Just roll with it – you’ll know pretty quickly whether they’re worth it or not. Plus, you wouldn’t let your friends choose your boyfriend/girlfriend would you? Then why does it make sense to let them choose your friends?
So the answer is: Yes!
You can definitely make new friends in your twenties. You just have to make a little more effort than you used to.