It's like first day of school all over again. You're nervous, excited, but mostly awkward because you don't know anyone in this new environment. I have decided there are more impactful tiers of this nervousness because the pressure can be mounting to make meaningful relationships that will last you the rest of your life. The two biggest "first day of school" moments are in my opinion, first day of college and first day of your adult life.
Why do you think these days are the biggest in making new relationships? I believe our parents have a huge impact on this self imposed pressure because often they met their spouse in college, the people that stood beside them at their wedding they met either in college or are solid friends after. Then there is the media. Who else wanted a friend group like friends? The kind that doesn't need an invitation to come over. They just come over. I didn't realize how much I craved these kind of relationships until I moved alone in my adult apartment. I love living alone but I also know that isolation is not healthy for me. I become unmotivated and complacent with my life and stop doing fulfilling things. How can I be an actor and not live life and observe the people who are apart of it? I can't. It's a social art. It's also unhealthy as a human being to be alone. So I figured I need to just get out there. I need to get out in the world and go on a limb. So while I am still finding what works for me, here is what I have learned to be really helpful in playing the social game.
1. Never say no to a socializing opportunity.
Unless you have committed to something prior, it's too expensive or you're dying then you have no excuse but to get out and meet new people. I cannot express how many friends and connections I have made in the little time that I have been graduated just by not allowing myself to say no. It can be anything. A lunch someone mentioned (it will mean a lot to them if you actually follow through), wine night, a workout class, a party someone is hosting, anything but sitting at home and saying that you can't make yourself. You can. You have control of your life. So don't say no to new opportunities. And who knows, you may even meet someone who can promote your career.
2. Go take a class.
This has been a really great way to find people who have similar interests. For me I've been taking some dance classes here and there which has introduced me to a couple of really nice and cool people. Then I also joined a Pro-Feminist group and wow oh wow I am in love with it. In fact it's my highlight of the month. I feel as if I belong. I don't even know these people that well but we deal with the same triumphs and struggles everyday and I couldn't help thinking throughout all of these experiences except "this is where I belong." Yes it was terrifying to make the commitment in this busy world, but it's so a part of my routine now. And I like having something to look forward to at the end of the day.
3. Surround yourself with people seeking a spiritual connection.
For me this has been church, but if that isn't something your into then find a group that is seeking higher learning, or doing meditation, or talking about the gift of science. Whatever you believe, find these people that will lift you up. For the first time in a long time I feel connected at my new church in Dallas. One that is accepting, understands my love of art, and is open to the hard questions in life. I feel as if they could be my family and it lifts my soul. I feel like my week can go on.
4. Follow through with commitments.
Lets face it, our busy lives are hard but if you know that then don't make empty promises to people that you can't follow through. I have learned this the hard way on both sides of the table. I made promises I couldn't keep and it made me feel bad for not following through. Like I messed up an opportunity to connect with someone. That's why I cannot say "Let's meet up!" without getting out my phone, looking at a date, and getting their number, because I am done making empty promises to people. Let me tell you, nothing is worse than being on the receiving end of that and feeling like people are insincere. I'm sure we have all felt that. So don't be that person.
5. Don't be afraid.
It's scary. We naturally want to protect ourselves, but I believe that sometimes it keeps us from living. So with all you have heard from this, my best advice to you would be to be brave. Be that freshmen in college that still has the belief that anything can happen. That you might meet someone remarkable today. After that, it doesn't seem so scary anymore. Be patient. People don't come out of the woodwork all at once. It takes time. Just be yourself and I bet that there is someone who feels exactly like you and would love to meet you.