This post has been a long time in the making. If you’ve been following along long enough you’re probably aware of my big move from Chicago to NYC last June. It was a true leap of faith in all senses, especially because I knew all of three people in the city and wasn’t close to any of them. I’ve never been the type of person whose days revolve around a social calendar, but after a few months of conquering the city solo I started to feel lonely without close friendships.
I felt lost and misguided for the first six months after my move, so when 2014 rolled around I knew I wanted to focus on building my life here in New York. Last month, March 1st to be exact, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make strides towards what I truly
wanted needed. And guess what…it worked! Frankly, I’m shocked at how quickly my efforts paid off but I’m grateful for the wonderful friends I’ve made these past two months.
Here are the tips I’ve compiled that significantly helped me meet people in this new-to-me city. Feel free to add on and share your own secrets!
1.) Give yourself time to adjust, but go at your own pace – Everyone has different levels of comfort, so allow yourself proper time to first feel comfortable in the new city. Being uncomfortable with your surroundings definitely reflects in all your actions. You will be closed off and too reserved, and people you meet will pick up on this. Upon first moving, take time to get to know your new city. Go exploring, figure out areas that you feel happiest in, and don’t fear doing all this alone! There is no pressure or set timeframe to make friends, so take all the days/weeks/months you need but don’t fall fully back into a comfort zone. Patience is critical!
2.) Join local groups and communities – Common interests are the best foundation for any relationship. Use the internet to find safe events/groups, and don’t be afraid to attend solo! I can tell you from personal experience that you absolutely will not be the only one attending without a sidekick. The true saving grace for me was joining Meetup.com and attending events. It’s very popular, safe, easy to navigate, and is full of options (cooking classes, book clubs, running groups, etc). It was through a female-only meet-up event that I met two of my closest friends here. Be fearless, but more importantly be smart when choosing and attending events. Safety first, always.
3.) Say “yes” more – This is such a simple yet extremely powerful concept. Take advantage of all meet-ups and invites that come your way, as long as your gut instinct isn’t raising any red flags (remember, safety first!). It sounds counterintuitive but this isn’t the time to be overly picky, especially when it comes time to making new friends. Make it a serious habit to always get someone’s contact information (with appropriate details to remember who they are) and stay in touch! Time will tell who you do and don’t mesh well with, so give everyone a chance at first. In the end just be smart when meeting up with people you recently met, and always trust your intuition.
4.) Leave your comfort zone – It can be mentally challenging for many to spend time with new people at events, but it’s very important to get accustomed to this feeling. You obviously won’t meet anyone by hiding out at home. During the first few months of life in the new location your mantra should be to put on a brave face and just do it (whatever “it” may be). Go out alone, attend events solo (seriously), and seek out social opportunities…you’ll grow braver and gain confidence. It will change and mature you for the better.
5.) Don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t be too tough on yourself – After a life-changing event like a relocation to a new city, the key is to not overwhelm yourself with added pressures. Work on your social goals at a comfortable pace with just enough uncomfortableness mixed in to avoid ruts. Nothing is worse than burning yourself out too quickly and then having to waste precious time hiding out to recover (especially if you’re an introvert). More importantly, you don’t want to end up hating your new hometown due to anxiety. Take your time and be gentle on yourself (see #1). And finally, don’t you dare let yourself feel guilty about staying in to recuperate when needed!
6.) Focus on making friends first (and dating later) – Being far away from family and friends, nothing is more important than establishing a solid support network. Friends can ease a broken heart, improve a crappy day, and cure loneliness. By all means start dating all you want but make a heavier effort to build lasting friendships. Boys (or girls) come and go, but friends are forever. I can’t imagine having to go through a dating-inflicted heartbreak without having friends nearby to comfort me.
7.) Maintain new friendships - Friendships, especially new ones, are about mutual efforts from all parties involved. One-sided friendships always sizzle away quickly, so take extra strides to actually spend time with those you meet. Much like with relationships, only time will tell whether a friendship is worth developing and pursuing. Agree to lunch dates and shopping adventures, respond to texts and phone calls, and initiate invitations!
8.) Be 100% yourself – Avoid building relationships based on a fake version of who you truly are. This doesn’t mean you should stop striving to be a better version of you. Just make sure to show strangers your true persona so both of you won’t waste time working on a friendship built on lies. Share your interests and passions with integrity and authentic bonds will follow suit. Honesty is key! People catch on to frauds quickly anyway…
I’ve always been fairly social despite my introverted nature, but moving to a new location with basically zero friendships was something I had never encountered. It took me months (8.5 to be exact) before I felt confident and comfortable enough to start focusing on my social life. To each their own!
I hope these tips help those who find themselves in a similar situation. You’ll grow in ways you never thought possible and gain confidence in the process. After all, plunging into the unknown is the best way to expose the true person you are below all those outer layers.
What are some of your tips to meet people? Share!