I’m a contributor for Gen Twenty, and this post originally appeared on GenTwenty.com.
Let’s face it – making new friends when you’re younger is relatively easy. For most of your childhood and adolescent life, you’re surrounded by people your own age. On the playground, in the classroom and at football games on Friday nights. You sat next to the same group of people in your math and English classes, walked home from school with your best friend and shared a cabin with a group of girls at sleep away camp.
Years later, you went off to college, where you were one of many nervous freshmen, open to meeting as many new people as possible. Everyone was essentially in the same boat. You crammed for finals with your classmates, went grocery shopping with your roommates on Sundays and walked to parties with the girls who lived in your hall.
In grade school, high school and college, friendships were generally valued in terms of quantity, not necessarily quality.
Then you graduate, move to a different city and start a brand new job. In the real world, you’re in an office, working alongside your coworkers who are all in different stages of their lives – some are married, some have families and some even have grandchildren.
You’re no longer in the same setting you were in prior to graduation, and meeting people in the same place as you suddenly isn’t as easy as it once was.
So, what’s next? How do you meet new people? Where do all the twenty-somethings hang out?
Making new friends after college can be challenging. But, it’s not impossible.
Here are seven ways to make new friends in your twenties:
1. Discover your passions first.
Before making new friends, it’s important to get to know yourself on a deeper level. Life after college is completely unpredictable, but it’s the perfect opportunity for a little self discovery.
Ask yourself, what are you really interested in? What drives and motivates you every day?
If you love running, getting involved with a local running club is a great place to start. If you’re like me and have a blog, connect with other bloggers in your area. Doing things you love makes it easier to connect with others who share the same hobbies as you, and will help you form more meaningful friendships.
2. Reach out to those with similar interests.
Once you figure out what it is you really love to do, reach out to others with similar interests. Instagram is a growing community, and as far as social media goes, it’s one of the best tools out there for meeting and connecting with like-minded people in your area.
Maybe you’re interested in pursuing photography and are really inspired by a local photographer you follow on Instagram. Send her a private message and see if you can meet up for coffee or lunch. Not only will this help you grow your professional network and give you the opportunity to grow your skill set, but it will also open the door to new friendships, too.
3. Connect with mutual friends.
Grab drinks with your friend and her co-worker she’s been wanting you to meet for months. Connecting with mutual friends will help you ease into meeting new people, without the fear of things getting awkward.
Because you share a mutual friend, it’s a little easier to break the ice, and it’s more likely you’ll hang out again in the future.
4. Join a co-ed sports team.
Even if you’re not the most athletic person around (yes, I’m totally referring to myself), joining an intramural co-ed sports team is a fun way to let loose after work and meet new people at the same time.
Most young professional organizations have opportunities to join teams, from softball to sand volleyball, so keep an eye out for what’s going on in your area. If it will make you feel more comfortable, bring a friend with you to help calm your nerves.
5. Find your school’s local alumni group.
Every city is filled with alumni groups, and joining one is a great way to meet people who went to the same school as you.
Even if you move across the country, chances are there is a local alumni group that gets together for trivia, game nights, etc.
Reach out and make new connections. Cheering on your school over chips, queso and margs is an surefire way to form new friendships.
6. Get tech savvy.
Chances are, you know people who have met their boyfriends and girlfriends on apps like Tinder and Bumble. We live in a digital age. There’s no reason why you can’t meet new friends the same way.
If you’re overwhelmed with your new work schedule and don’t feel like you have the time to dedicate to joining every club out there, sign up for apps like Meetup and Bumble BFF.
They are great resources, and can help connect you with people in your area.
7. Don’t be afraid to make the first move.
Making friends is a lot like dating. It’s actually hilarious how similar the two are. And while it would be nice for people to always approach you at every networking event, remember that sometimes, it’s up to you to make the first move.
Be brave and put yourself out there. Go to networking events and proactively introduce yourself to people there.
It might take some creative thinking and a little extra effort, but you will make new friends in your twenties, thirties, and beyond.
Just remember, most people are going through the same things you are. You just haven’t met them yet.