Making friends as an adult is acknowledged to be tricky business. Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city or state or maybe it’s your friends who have been slowly migrating away. Sometimes our old companions have simply moved to a new stage of life (ie popped out a child) and we find ourselves in need of people with priorities and schedules more in line with our own.
For these and other reasons, every now and then I find myself lamenting my dwindling friend count.
It’s a fabulous desire to have more friends. It conjures up pictures of intimate chats over coffee, discussions over post work beers and cosy conversations over Sunday morning waffles.
The problem is, how do you find the people for your weekly socialising? Where the heck do you go to make new friends anyway?
Put yourself out there
From perusing many articles and advice blogs over the years, the general consensus seems to be that you just need to put yourself out there. Whether you join a new club, start making prolonged eye contact with fellow shoppers at the supermarket or take up a sport, giving yourself the opportunity to meet new people is key.
I like to think of it as friendship bingo. You’re looking for a friend and people pass you by until one day, you pass by someone who is also looking for a friend and ‘BINGO!’ you can stand up and claim the potential for friendship as your prize. Of course your bingos still have to be people you like (who also like you), but that’s small fry once you’ve found an actual person also in need of friendship.
All of this is paradoxically both more difficult and easier when you live overseas. In an expat community, your pool of potential chums is small and constantly changing. Losing friends on the regular becomes a part of life. The chance to base your friendships on similar backgrounds, shared interests or good old fashioned chemistry is significantly reduced. To be blunt, you often have to take what (or in this case who) you can get.
On the other hand, the shared experiences of living overseas and experiencing a difference culture often forges deep friendships with a speed you wouldn’t think possible. While your community back home often can’t understand or picture your new life, your international friends get your cultural references and in jokes. They too have experienced first hand the same struggles and joys that your new home has brought.
My twenties have seen me playing friendship bingo in both my home country and overseas with varying levels of success. My first two years after having crossed the big blue were a season of deep loneliness as the realities of life in a relatively small town were compounded by my social anxiety. Yet the four years following this brought me some of the most valued friendships of my life. As I built friendships with people from countries all around the globe, with different cultures views and values, my own world became bigger and richer. There have been countless experiences and laughs and conversations that I’m so incredibly grateful for.
Don’t give up
Making friends as an adult isn’t easy. It can be difficult and awkward and often involves a lot of intention and effort. Sometimes our circumstances are limiting and finding new friends feels like a lost cause.
Don’t give up on adult friendships. Forego your misgivings, put yourself out there and give yourself the opportunity to meet new people. Who knows, a new friend might be just around the corner.
Anna hails from Australia but lives and works in South East Asia. She enjoys travel, good coffee and getting to hang out with awesome people from around the world.