Making friends after high school or as a young adult can be intimidating, and even frustrating at times. Being out of an environment where you are with the same people every day can make it difficult. Especially when it comes to identifying opportunities for meeting new people. And with a lot more things, college and work, being online. This may even mean fewer opportunities to meet and talk with others. But, there are ways that you can overcome these challenges and make friends as a young adult.
Try to Identify Opportunites for Meeting New People
The first challenge is you may not know where to start looking for potential friends. Think of places you go to often. This can be places like work, college, or church. Or if you have a hobby, you might find a community of fellow hobbyists. For example, at work, you could look at your division, coworkers, and small groups. Or at college and church, you could look for clubs or groups that interest you.
Address Your Anxieties
It’s normal to be anxious when it comes to meeting new people. We often fear rejection or judgment. Thinking “Will they like me?” or “What if I say something stupid?”. It is important to be aware of the negative thoughts and feelings that you have surrounding this situation. You may find it helpful to look at the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) triangle.
This will help you recognize these negative thoughts, challenge them, and replace them with more realistic ones. For example, when you’re thinking “What if I say something stupid?” instead, you can think “I am an interesting person, and I will make sure to listen carefully.” or “I am sure I will find something interesting to talk about”.
It may feel easier to avoid situations that cause you anxiety but that can make it worse in the long run. Avoiding situations that make you anxious in the long run will just make it more difficult the next time you encounter them. Along with fueling any feelings of anxiety or insecurity. Putting yourself out there and in these situations may feel uncomfortable at first.
For example, you want to go to a grand opening of a comic book store. But, you see it’s crowded and you don’t know anyone there. You may be tempted to just turn around and go home. But, instead, try to find a small step that will ease you into the situation. Maybe start by going into more empty aisles then work your way up to where it’s more crowded. Remember, practice will make it easier. Nothing is perfected overnight.
There can feel like there’s a lot of pressure to make friends. That you have to just jump on in and make friends right away. But, this isn’t the case. You can take small steps to ease yourself into any situation. Small steps will also help you reduce any anxiety and help you feel more comfortable.
For example, perhaps start working remotely at a coffee shop near you. Make small steps each time you are there. Start by making eye contact with others working around you or the cashier. Then maybe give someone a compliment such as “Hey, I like your shirt” or “The sticker on your laptop is cool!” Then try striking up a conversation. You can even use compliments to start the conversation. You can compliment their shirt or their laptop sticker then ask where they got it. Or, the story behind it. You will be surprised at how much you can learn about people just by talking with them.
Don’t forget to Congratulate Yourself
It’s also very important to congratulate yourself on taking each small step. You are taking strides in the right direction. Whether it’s going to a coffee shop or making small talk with someone at work. These are all steps in overcoming the anxiety of meeting new people and putting yourself out there.
How to Begin Deepening Friendships
Deepening the friendships you have started is the next step. After a few conversations and meetups, you will have a good idea if this person or group is right for you. When you’re trying to deepen your friendship, you can do the same things as you did before. Like, compliments and small talk. But this time you can start to get a little more personal. You can start by asking them more questions about themselves, like what music they listen to or what kinds of hobbies they have. And don’t forget to tell them about yourself too! This is how you form a real connection with someone.
You can also do small things to show that you were listening to them or that you care. Like when you meet at a coffee shop, you can remember their favorite drink and get it for them the next time. Or, when you’re both working remotely, bring them their favorite food or snack. You can also ask this person or people from the club, or groups, to meet up to do something with you.
This can be anything. From going to lunch, taking a class together, or attending a concert. Or, if are both hobbyists, you can even do a project together. Think about activities that you both might enjoy and suggest that. This way you know that you both will be interested in the activity and can talk about it.
Not Everyone is Going to Be a Perfect Fit
Not everyone is going to be a perfect fit to be your friend. However, that’s okay! We are all unique and different. And finding friends who are the same is what makes it fun. When on your journey to making friends, some people might even say “No” or “I’m not interested”. That might sting a little bit, however, don’t let that stop you. They might be busy or just not interested in getting to know you at this time. As a young adult yourself, you know that life gets busy.
It’s also good to remember that it’s okay if not every interaction or friendship is going to turn into a best friend. However, you can learn from that experience and use it to help you when you meet someone new.
Different Circles of Friendships
When meeting people, it’s also important to remember that it’s okay to have different friendship circles. For example, your friendship circles will look like oak tree rings. You will have your longtime and close friends in the middle. Then as it slowly gets bigger as you have your work/study friends, your concert buddies, etc. And it can even extend to people you’ve only met once. Or just people you see on campus. This is okay! Having different types of friends is a great way to get different experiences and learn from them.
Making friends as a young adult can seem like a hurdle. However, by taking small steps and congratulating yourself over small wins, you will have a great group of friends. Ones who are perfect for you.
Begin Young Adult Therapy in Roswell, GA
As a young adult, making friends can be a challenge. One that brings you anxiety or fear. Our therapists at Wellview Counseling are here to help encourage you to make small steps and give you support to create lasting friendships. Ones that will last you throughout your young adult life. If you’re interested in starting therapy:
- Contact Wellview Counseling
- Meet with our specialized play therapist and parent coaches
- Have someone in your corner, helping you overcome this challenge!
Other Therapy Services Offered at Wellview Counseling
Starting young adult therapy to help reduce anxiety and fear surrounding making friends is just one way we can help at Wellview Counseling. We provide a variety of therapy services to support you or your family to find healing and connection. We provide family therapy, teen counseling, child counseling and play therapy, individual counseling, postpartum anxiety or depression counseling, trauma and PTSD treatment, and more. No matter the situation you are facing, our specialized therapists are here to help you and your family. Our office is in Roswell, GA, but we also offer online therapy to anyone in Georgia. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment please feel welcome to reach out to us!
Ashley Bobo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and 20 years of experience. Ashley has worked in a variety of settings but knows anxiety can be a struggle for many young adults. She understands the challenges that come with the transition to being a young adult. Ashley is passionate about helping her clients find ways to make healthy connections and create a supportive environment. She will help you grow and conquer the challenging times you may be having.