It’s the common refrain of the recently relocated twenty-something: I don’t have any friends.
Moving to a new city is hard. Packing is draining, moving trucks are expensive and finding a job is multi-month, soul-crushing experience. It takes a while before the dust settles enough to for you to realize that you’re completely alone. You realize for the first time that you don’t know any of the people around and the people you do know are miles and miles away. That’s the kind of epiphany that can paralyze you.
My girlfriend moved to Washington State in June. I followed at the end of July. And aside from one couple that we see occasionally, our closest friends are in Seattle. We’ve tried going to the local swing dancing club, but no one danced with us, and scouted for churches that were home to people our age, but found none. It turns out that making friends after college is a struggle.
School environments are perfect places to make lifelong friends. Lots of interesting people your age are all crammed into a small area. Social interactions are easy to initiate. We met people in classroom discussions, in hallways, in cafeterias, during our downtime. I still keep in touch with a guy I met in preschool and I know that the core group of friends I made in high school and college will be there for the rest of my life.
But how do we make friends in the adult world? Absent the bonds of school, how do we forge personal connections in a new place? How do we even interact with people in a society where we are so well insulated from each other? These questions have plagued me for months.
This isn’t kindergarten anymore. It isn’t socially acceptable to approach strangers and try to make a friend. Maybe we need to volunteer somewhere or take up a new hobby. Maybe we need to eavesdrop on more conversations or creep on potential friends at the local dive bar. Maybe it just takes more time.
Will you be my friend?
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer and filmmaker in Tacoma, WA. He will pay you $5 to be his friend. He will also settle for being followed on the Twitter machine.