As we dive headfirst into adultland, it’s normal to find it more difficult to go out there and make friends. Heck, it can be harder to keep friends. With everyone advancing in their careers, getting married, or launching their own businesses, staying in touch becomes more difficult than waking up for a 7 a.m. hot yoga class. And if you’re one of those brave souls venturing into a new city alone, you might find yourself staying in on a Friday night. OK, every Friday night. With nothing, and no one, but box of Amy’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies and Cab Sav.
I’m not knocking this activity (I’ve been there too many times), but we need our friendships. They help keep us grounded, bring joy, and make breakups a heck of a lot easier. For young children, the activity of making friends seems to be innate. The luckiest kids even find themselves in friendly schools and themed clubs, both of which tend to encourage socialization and teamwork. Weekends consist of birthday parties, playdates, and trips to giant building filled with of nothing but trampolines (it’s real, I swear). For the really young ones, the parents even go as far as to plan everything, so all the kids have to do is show up and graciously accept a fruit snack.
But don’t worry; you too can reconnect with your former, 5-year-old self and remember how easy it is rock your friendships. It’s time to whip up a funfetti cake, play some Mandy Moore, and take some lessons on friendship from your inner child.
Recognize Special Occasions
Do you remember holidays and birthdays from your youth? Those were the days when everyone in the classroom got a cupcake or popsicle while the birthday girl danced around the playground wearing a paper crown chanting “I AM THE QUEEN!” And don’t even get me started on the blissful occasion that was Valentine’s Day. At my school, we spent the days prior decorating a shoebox and then gifted the entire class with a delicious card-and-candy combination. For Halloween, we donned costumes and paraded around the school like a bunch of tiny Kate Middletons. Everyone was recognized and every holiday demanded some form of celebration.
This does not need to end with adulthood. Next time it’s someone’s birthday in the office, consider bringing in donuts, balloons, or coffee cake. Wake a best friend up with mimosas in bed, or craft a felt crown for a roommate. On holidays, find small ways to celebrate. Whether you’re in the office or hanging out a home, these small forms of recognition will bring joy to everyone involved.
Try New Things (and Don’t Be Afraid to Say Hi First)
Social anxiety is real. I’m definitely the kind of person who needs to take deep breaths before entering a room of strangers, especially when I know I’m going to be socializing with them for the next few hours. But little kids do this all the time; they start a new class, new soccer team, or new summer camp program every single year. For them, meeting new people is as routine as riding the bus.
If you’re in a new area, consider signing up for some sort of class or social activity. There are tons of groups out there that cater to a variety of interests, whether it be a cooking class, comedy program, or brew-and-books club. Once you arrive at said event, take a deep breath and say hi to someone new. The other person, who is likely trembling with a similar fear, will be glad you did.
Keep in Touch
Moving away is hard, but impossible to avoid. New jobs happen. Moves happen. Traveling to Italy and never returning because you finally snagged an Italian lover happens. We don’t have much control over where the winds of change take us, but we do have control over maintaining our friendships.
Summer camp asks a beautiful thing of children: letter writing. How pumped were you to get that Lisa Frank envelop reeking of bubblegum and stuffed with stickers? This simple activity shows a friend that you care enough about them to buy a stamp, sit down, and write out some personal words of compassion. If snailmail isn’t your vibe, you’ve got dozens of other forms of communication. I love getting random emails and utilizing Skype for wine dates.
You Don’t Need a Reason to Hang
Kids don’t need to “catch up” or “hear about your new apartment” over an organized coffee date; they simply have a brilliant idea known as playdates. These two to three hours blocks are purely dedicated to unplanned fun. We don’t always need a reason to spend time with our pals; we can demand an impromptu social hour purely based on the notion that we love his or her company.
Invite a friend over and see where the afternoon takes you. If you’re anything like me, this might mean drinking tea and painting your nails while reading your horoscopes aloud. And while there is certainly a time and a place for scheduled activities (I’m looking at you, Wanderlust 108s!), there’s nothing wrong with the occasional “lazy day of spontaneity.”
Or shall we say, playdate.
Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet at amandakohr.com and through Instagram.