Technically, I’m an adult, even though some days when I am wearing a DIY Lying Cat t-shirt to work it feels like I’m pretending to be a functioning human let alone a mature life form.
One of the challenges of being an adult is making new friends. I grew up in a small town where I could literally recite the names of all the members of my graduating class in alphabetical order (all 52 of them). So it was easy to make friends—we’d all known each other our whole lives, and sure, there was drama, but ultimately we worked it out, because we had to.
After high school, I went to university, and made tons of new friends in the dorms and classes. We were all living on top of one another (literally, I had bunk beds) and in that environment friendship comes naturally and can feel very intimate in a very short period of time.
Fast forward a few years, and it’s not like I don’t have friends. I stay in touch with lots of friends from college, even if we don’t all live close any longer, and I’m still tight with my best friends from childhood (literally, my best friend and I bonded over a magenta crayon in first grade). But my two best friends don’t live in Lawrence, and they have kids, so the wild girls weekends we had in our early twenties are no more.
But hey, I’m here to tell you it is possible to make friends as an adult, even if you don’t have kids, are a total introvert, and are basically the most awkward person ever. I am living proof.
Get a job you like. Or at least with people you could like.
I am not even going to lie: most of the people I hang out with socially I know through work. This has only happened in the last few years, since I’ve become a librarian, and actually enjoy the company of almost everyone I work with. I used to hate my crappy job and even when I tried to be friendly with co-workers we didn’t have the same interests or values so hanging out socially just…didn’t work. Now, I work with people who value community and social justice but also books and reading and culture. Seriously, I am going to a work conference with a co-worker in November and we are planning on staying a few extra days for vacation. Switching careers really helped me make new friends as an adult.
If your job sucks but it pays the bills, you can still meet other semi-adult people who share your interests or values through volunteering. Even if you don’t, your still helping out with a good cause, so partial win. I volunteered for years at my local domestic violence shelter and met tons of cool feminist ladies. Even though I can’t do regular shifts at shelter or do story times any more because grad school (and sometimes Mister BS likes to see me), I do still get coffee with some people from the organization. We also collaborate on community events and outreach through the library. I totally value that experience and the people I’ve met through volunteering. So whether you’re walking dogs at the humane society or doing service projects through your church, you can meet fun people while doing good work for your community.
Join a bowling league.
In Lawrence, all the cool kids play summer in the Kaw Valley Kickball League. I am not cool nor coordinated enough for that, so bowling was a great alternative. Mister BS carpooled with the bowling coach from his school and they got to be friends and so when he and his wife wanted to form a bowling team for a low-pressure co-ed league, I was like, why not? And now I can actually bowl a decent game (I even kicked my little brother’s ass last time we played). If bowling is not your thing than a Parks & Rec softball or basketball team would also work. Any group activity that you’re interested in is fair game.
Oh and of course there are book clubs.
So this feels like cheating for me because technically I am paid to be there, but I started a YA for grownups book club at my library this year and I have really enjoyed socializing will everyone who attends. We only meet every other month, so it’s low pressure, but we meet at a restaurant, bar, or coffeeshop instead of the library, so it’s much more casual and social than a typical library program. And I can actually see myself becoming friends with several of the regulars. Maybe they are currently more in the “acquaintance” zone than friends, but that could easily change, and you have to start somewhere.
Internet friends are real friends.
There was definitely a time in my life when I would have scoffed at the idea of having “internet friends.” But I spent a formative year living in the middle of no where when Mister BS took his first teaching job, and there was no opportunity for socializing with anyone our own age, yet I serendipitously discovered lifelong friends in the process—through fandom and fanfiction. Some I’ve met in real life, some I still just catch up with on Facebook or Twitter or exchange long emails with. Even though I am not active in a fandom anymore, through work and blogging, I still interact with lots of people online on a regular basis. We discuss anything from where to find comfortable, quality bras to politics (and books. lots of talk of books). They’re as much a part of my life as any friends.
For me, my Twitter friends are as important as my casual acquaintances (I tweet blog related stuff from @librarian_style, but chat books and life as @molly_wetta, too). Social media and internet connections have facilitate real life, in person friendships, too. Through internet cultivated connections, I was invited to join a writing critique group that meets IRL. I regularly meet a blogger friend for coffee or drinks after we discovered we lived close. I have a standing invite to visit Tumblr HQ because internet acquaintances met real life acquaintances and realized we all knew each other.
The internet makes the world a smaller, more connected place, and also facilitates people with shared interests and values and lifestyles connecting with each other in virtual environments, but those connection can also translate to real life.
Cats are people, too.
Honestly, some nights my cats are totally enough for me. And that’s okay.
Bonus idea: be a queer lady on OKCupid.
When I was talking about this idea for a post to my sister, who is much more outgoing and better at making friends than me, she laughed, and said “be a queer lady on OKCupid.” Though she’s currently dating a guy, she’s dated girls in the past. When she was actively in the market on an online dating site, she ended up becoming friends with many other local queer ladies even though they didn’t spark romantically.