Once, while sitting on a bench in Pioneer Square in downtown Portland I noticed a child who ran ahead of her parents and started dancing in front of a pair of total strangers. No shame, no inhibition. Then I began to wonder what happens to us as adults. At what point do we lose that joy and think the “all work and no play” attitude was what we need to do as adults?
My high school years weren’t unbearable, but you couldn’t pay me enough to relive them. I did my time. Subsequently, I genuinely enjoyed my college career but was depressed a few years after graduation because I honestly believed those would always be the best years of my life, like they said. Problem was I grew up watching my mom and the rest of my family go through the day-to-day life.
Work, go home. Work, go home. They were set on autopilot, stuck in the same routine.
My family’s behavior set the precedent for what I thought adult life was supposed to be. I found myself doing the same routine the first two years after grad school. And then I decided to move to Brooklyn.
There were 3 things I did that worked wonders for my social life. I began to see that I could actually enjoy life like I was still in college. By following these three simple steps, you can too. (Man, I sound like a late night TV infomercial).
Go to everything you are invited to.
After moping about for two years I realized I’d had the wrong attitude. It was like I was expecting eager people to just knock on my door, as if I had posted an ad on Craigslist looking for new friends. I mean, would anyone even respond to that ad? So, I decided to go to every event I was invited to, even if it didn’t sound like my kind of thing. A $10 concert for an indie band I’ve never heard of? Sure. Within a few months I began to make lifelong friends.
It’s a rather simple formula. You receive a mass invite via Facebook, or through a co-worker, about a party. You attend. Someone there invites you to another massive event. Before you know it the events you get invited to become more and more intimate. It starts with the parties then becomes birthday dinners all the way to baby showers and family game nights.
Making friends is all about repeated exposure. The more you see the same people, the closer you become. Isn’t that how we made friends in college?
Find Your Community.
Don’t you miss those college flyer kiosks where student organizations would post information about upcoming events? I lived off all that free pizza and cookies from those events. I also learned a lot about Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures, child soldiers in Africa, the English teaching opportunities in Japan, etc. Well, with so many online resources nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to find a community of people like you in the same way.
There are other young women out there who read, watch and discuss the major themes of Game of Thrones (which is so hot! Can guys come too?) and guys who love late night Super Smash Bros sessions (I’m sure someone finds that attractive!), just like you. With numerous social networking sites out there, finding those groups are just a few clicks away.
If you are in your 20’s or 30’s and find that you spend more time watching Game of Thrones episodes with the commentary than interacting with real human beings then perhaps you simply live in the wrong neighborhood. I appreciate my namesake city, Dallas, for what it is but I have no plans to move back.
When I went to Brooklyn I saw that I could wander around the streets at midnight and try vegan cream cheese bagels at a local bakery or the surprisingly good pretzel shake at a café. Or sing a harmonious quartet with a group of strangers. That was one thing I missed about college; the randomness and the ability to hang out with friends on campus at late hours and meet new people. Now my new campus is 70.61 square miles long, according to Wikipedia.
If you are unhappy with life you might consider moving. Cities like Portland, New York, and San Francisco feature excellent spots for young professionals. You might not even have to travel that far. Maybe there’s a hip community of youngsters, or the young at heart, such as yourself in a neighborhood in your city who wouldn’t mind making a new friend. You’re not married, have no kids, no obligations. Take Nike’s advice, don’t suck and just do it.
Go out. Find your niche. Move somewhere new. Do you.