There is a topic that has come up on a number of occasions lately amongst my group of friends and it is the topic of making friends as an adult. What is especially interesting about this is that friends from back home in BC as well as friends here on PEI have brought it up to me, so it's something that we all think about or fear having to deal with no matter the location of the person.
What is also interesting is how I refer to people from BC as being "in BC" whereas people from PEI are "on PEI". Perhaps BCers are "in" the province because they are within the mountains or tall buildings (coast people anyway) while PEIers are "on" an island. Weird.
Anyway, back to the main topic: Making friends as an adult.
Remember being a kid and when you wanted to be friends with the other kid who was playing on the jungle-gym you would just walk over and say, "Wanna play?" Yes, it was just that easy. Now if you were to do that to someone when you're in full-on adulthood, you would get a restraining order. Plus when you're growing up and doing things like going away to university, starting new jobs, getting married, having kids, getting divorced; your life changes so rapidly and people are suddenly removed from your life or introduced into your life and it's hard to find a way to reach out and find new people who can comfort you and be a companion.
I came to PEI without knowing a single soul here. I am lucky that my move involved going to a school where there are tons of people who are all trying to do the same thing as me and who have roughly similar goals, so conversation was slightly easier than say, moving to a brand new city to start a brand new job where you know no one. That's a bit tougher because cliques have already been made within the job and you're the new kid on the block who has to find the right person or people to fit in with. Sometimes you're lucky and someone will approach you and invite you out for a drink with "the girls" or something like that, but a lot of the time you're just watched from afar like an animal at the zoo.
How do you strike up a conversation? What do you say? And to whom do you say it to? So many people are set in their ways by the time they've reached full adulthood that they lack the time or desire to have a new person in their life to make time for. Or sometimes you'll meet a new person, say at the gym, and you'll get to know this person a bit but the relationship reaches no farther than the gym and meeting outside the walls of the building is something that you know will never happen. Why is that? Why can't we merge our gym friends with our life on the outside? Perhaps we have nothing in common besides the desire to have tricked-out triceps.
Some tips I found after researching this a bit:
- Don't take life so seriously and have fun! Kids generally meet when having fun (at the park, sports teams, recess...) so if you keep things casual and more simple then people will want to be in your space and life.
- Be curious, meaning ask questions. "How is your son liking soccer this year?" "Do you know of any good places to get sushi around here?" "I have a bad rash, can you refer me to any clinics?" (Ok, omit the last one).
- Don't hold grudges, judge or burn many bridges. Just because the girl in the copy room has bright pink hair and her septum pierced doesn't mean you too wouldn't get along wonderfully. Forming opinions about people's political/religious beliefs, appearance, hobbies or choice of dress is only causing you to close doors which could lead to friendship.
- Join a class or volunteer. The people who attend will have similar interest as you and interaction is probably inevitable.
- This is something that just came to me, but if you have a dog, go to a dog park! Dog owners love nothing more than to talk about their dog so conversation starters are super easy. "Oh he's a cutie! What's his breed?" "How old is you pup there?" "Do you know of any good dog friendly trails in the area?"