You may be wondering how to make friends after college. The truth is that making friends after college can be difficult.
It can be challenging even to discuss this topic because many people feel embarrassed about having a lack of friends, especially when we see others on social media posting pictures in big groups with lots of smiling faces.
The college years are a time of excitement, fresh faces, and new adventures. Making friends in college feels like it comes naturally because everyone is sharing a similar experience.
People have moved from their hometowns, or even from their home countries to a new city and begin a new adventure, and often need to connect with others in the same situation to help them feel comfortable and safe.
On-campus, there are hundreds or even thousands of students – potential friends – and a chance to meet new friends daily. There is usually no shortage of social events, parties, and tutorial groups that offer a chance to socialize and grow your friendship group.
However, when we leave college, it can feel like we’re thrown out into the world with no safety net. Most of us are still in our 20s when we leave college, a time that, for most people, is filled with feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt.
The idea of making friends without the social safety net of college can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to know how to make friends after college, this article is for you.
Below we’ll explore why it can be hard to make friends after college, why it’s important to maintain a social life, and how you can approach new people and bring new friends into your life no matter how old you are.
Why is it Hard to Make Friends in your 20s?
As we get older and leave the college years behind, life and its inevitable responsibilities can get in the way of easily making friends.
Long work weeks, relationship commitments, children, or other responsibilities can take up a large chunk of our time and leave us with limited free time to socialize and create bonds with people.
Further, people grow and develop at different speeds. In college, everyone shares some common ground, but some people move on to a new city after the college years, some people move home, and some people travel the world.
Some people focus on making money and starting a business, while others prefer to explore the world more and figure out exactly what they want to do with their life. As such, it can be hard to meet people who share the same goals and are at the same stage of life as you are.
Is it Essential to Make Friends After College?
We all need friends. Humans are social animals. Since our beginning, we’ve focused on the community around us for shared resources, shelter, and protection, as well as support, encouragement, and love. Isolation and loneliness are not good for our health.
Of course, you might enjoy spending time by yourself, but it’s likely that you still feel a connection to someone somewhere, even if you only get to interact with them over the phone or online. Any kind of friendship is a valid connection and goes a long way in helping us stay healthy.
Multiple studies highlight a significant positive correlation between friendship and overall health. According to research, friendship quality improves immune system functioning and decreases your risk of cardiovascular issues.
One study points out that the quantity and quality of our social relationships influence our mental health. Connections and shared bonds with others improve our overall well-being and reduce the severity of feelings of depression and anxiety.
How to Make Friends After College as an Adult
Making friends as an adult might be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Though your social life might not be as active as it was during your college years, there are still some things you can do to keep an active social circle and enjoy spending time with other people.
1. Make friends with your coworkers
Connecting with your coworkers is a great way to make new friends as an adult. Your coworkers spend a lot of time with you, so they already have a basic understanding of who and how you are.
If you’re looking for new friendships, reach out to a coworker and ask them out for lunch or dinner, to the cinema, or even just to get a coffee outside the office.
Your shared experience in the workplace can be the common ground that bonds you. They will understand issues, inside jokes, and struggles that come up within the workplace.
You can speak about your experience at work with them, and they can share theirs with you. By simply hanging out, you might discover that you have more similar interests with them than you expected!
Bear in mind that it’s best to keep office gossip to a minimum. It’s great to speak about shared experiences and bond over opinions. However, if you gossip about other coworkers, you might give yourself a bad reputation, making it harder to make genuine friends.
2. Go to events to make friends
You don’t need to have a friend with you to go to a social event! Many people go to events by themselves and meet like-minded people who then become their friends. If you’re shy or introverted, going somewhere alone can seem scary, but there is really nothing to fear.
You might be worried about getting out of your comfort zone. You might think, ‘who will I talk to?’ or ‘what if I’m awkward and unable to talk to anybody?’ but these are limiting beliefs and are unlikely to really be the case.
If you can muster up the courage to speak to even one person, you’ll gain some confidence. You might even gain enough confidence to speak to more people at the event and use that momentum to keep meeting new people.
It is important to note that not everybody will want to talk to you and that’s okay. If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, that’s their choice. It is not a reflection of your worth or validity as a person.
3. Attend a class or take up a hobby to make friends
Going to a class and learning a new skill is a great way to make friends. Write down a list of skills you’d like to develop and look online for a relevant class or course in your area.
It can be anything from learning a new language to a cooking class to a course in photography. As long as it sparks your interest and you’re happy to attend, you’ll be in a prime position to meet new people and make new best friends!
Find some hobbies to expand your interests and maybe even get you out of your comfort zone. Joining a sports team, the community theatre, or partaking in a dance class are excellent ways to meet people and make friends as an adult.
It can be daunting at first, especially if you’ve been out of college for a while and feel like you’ve forgotten how to socialize, but it gets easier with practice!
4. Volunteer to make friends
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. There are always plenty of volunteering opportunities available in local communities, so do some online research such as Facebook groups or forums, or go to a local community center to find out about available volunteering opportunities.
The people you meet when you volunteer will likely share the same passion for helping people, so it’s an excellent way to bond with like-minded folk. You might meet people from various backgrounds, all of whom share the same goal of helping those in need.
Getting to know people from different backgrounds and cultures is one of the most enjoyable and educational aspects of meeting new people.
Types of volunteering opportunities
- Homeless shelters
- Animal shelters
- Environment clean up
- Health and medical support
- Community renovation projects
5. Reconnect with old/existing friends
Making friends doesn’t have to be all about meeting new people. Since your college years, you may have drifted from a lot of close friends. Maybe there were people you hung out with a little but never considered a close friend. Take the time to reach out to old friends and acquaintances and see if they’d like to meet up for coffee at your local coffee shop!
6. Use social media
Use a social media site such as Facebook to find local community groups who do other activities such as hiking in nearby mountains, cycling, cooking, or reading. Follow local businesses on Instagram and keep up with their events, then attend those events with a friend or on your own.
Post in a Facebook group, online communities or on your page about something you’re interested in and see if anyone shares common interests and wants to join you in doing it! For example, if there’s a waterfall nearby, post about your interest in taking a road trip there. Ask if anyone wants to join you for the journey!
You can also download friendship apps such as Meetup.com or Yubo.live to find like-minded people with similar interests and arrange a friend date!
Modern life might seem oversaturated with technology and more online interaction than face-to-face, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Especially in today’s climate of social distancing, meeting people online is a practical and fun way to make potential connections.
7. Make friends with your friends’ friends
If you’ve moved to a new city or country after college, see if one of your older friends has a friend in that new place. They might help you link up or ask their friend to show you around.
Finding friendship through your existing good friends is one of the easiest and most effective ways to grow your social connections!
8. Follow your passions and interests
What do you love to do? You might still be figuring that out, and that’s ok, but if you already have an idea, follow it! If you throw yourself completely into what you love to do, you’ll feel fulfilled and confident, which is an excellent recipe for making new friendships.
Your new friend might also be someone who loves to do what you do, or they may not be involved at all, but your confidence and happiness in following your passion will make you someone people want to be friends with.
Try to be Comfortable on your Own
Before you go to great efforts to make friends after college, consider taking some time to be comfortable on your own. If you’re desperately looking for friendship, you’re less likely to create an authentic connection with someone.
It’s tricky and can be frustrating at times, but there is truth in the saying, ‘the more you deliberately pursue something, the less likely you are to find it.’
In genuine friendships, both friends are entirely accepted by the other. There is understanding, compassion, and encouragement. What’s important, then, is that you learn to be with yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself wholly.
Accepting yourself creates space for real friendships to form because the friendships don’t stem from loneliness and a need for company but rather from genuine and authentic enjoyment and admiration for yourself and another person.