Flash back to first grade: I have lots of friends. Pretty much everyone in my class is my friend, with the exception of that irritating boy who chases me on the playground and tries to kiss me. My best friend lives two houses away from us, and we play together every day. I get along with everyone my age, and making new friends is easy.
Fast forward to now: I’m thirty years old, I teach full time, have an almost six-month-old baby, and I can count my close friends on one hand. By the time I get home from work, I’m exhausted. My husband and I work opposite shifts, so when I get home, he goes to work, and the nighttime baby duties are all mine. Throw dinner, dishes, and possibly some laundry into the mix, and that’s my night. On the weekends, my husband and I decompress and catch up with each other, and occasionally meet up with friends or family.
With our busy schedule, I find it really hard to make new friends.
Now, I don’t mean for this to come across as complaining; I’m happily complacent. I love the endless hours of cuddling with our son, and I’m much more comfortable being at home than out and about. Of course, it’s fun to go have dinner with a friend once in a while, but I think I’m okay with not making new friends.
I love the ones I have, and wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Recently, I found myself chatting with my physical therapist about this very topic. She had just moved to Vermont, and said meeting new friends outside of work had proven very challenging.
We all know there are people around, probably nice ones at that, but how on earth do we find them and connect with them now that we are grown-ups?
Just for fun, I Googled “how to make friends as an adult” and found some suggestions. I found this list of, “7 Ways To Make New Friends As An Adult, Because It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds” on Bustle, but I’d like to tell you why most of these ways don’t work for me.
#1 – Meetup
Meetup is a website that brings people of similar interests together. There are a ton of Meetup groups in the greater Burlington area. With just a few search terms, I can find groups for people with my interests: cooking, speaking Spanish, hiking, sewing, knitting and playing with my dogs. But here’s the thing: apparently, I can be socially awkward. I know, it seems weird since my whole career revolves around communicating and instructing others. But standing in front of a group of teenagers is completely different than trying to talk to a group of adults. I’ve been to Meetup events before, but I end up being a wallflower, and if someone approaches me, I end up talking about work! How boring is that? I know I have interesting things to say, but somehow they just don’t appear when I need them.
#2 – Go to Night School
No chance of that! Unless there is a school that welcomes occasional crying outbursts, constant breastfeeding, and quite possibly, my random falling asleep! This one’s not for me. I am working on my Masters degree, but it’s online, and the scheduling is somewhat under my control.
#3 – Volunteer
See #2! I believe strongly in giving back to the community and giving to those less fortunate, but for the meantime, my contributions are limited to donations. My mom and I participate in the beCAUSE Craft Show each year with our business, Kat’s Paws, and we donate 50% of our profits to a local charity.
#4 – Use your Kids (or Pets)
Our son is a sweet little angel, so this one is almost doable, but the thought of playdates makes me anxious. I’m aware that parenting styles can vary greatly, and I worry about unsolicited advice. I am, however, part of a Facebook mommy group where I can offer and receive advice at my own comfort level.
On a lighter note, there is no way in heck that I can bring our dogs anywhere to socialize. Pete doesn’t do well with men, and Luna has no personal boundaries. The process of wrangling them into the car and out again somewhere else would quite possibly end with me getting dragged through the grass and mud. Add in the baby carseat, and that is just not happening.
#5 – Up your Social Media Game
Ok, finally one I can do! Yes, time is tight, but during the hours I spend breastfeeding and watching Netflix, I can totally do this. I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; admittedly, most of my activity on all three is based around my business, but I could definitely do more on the personal front. I don’t, however, see myself using Snapchat because it seems like I have at least three chins in every selfie I take!
#6 – Shake your Friend Tree
Bustle suggests that you ask your friends for recommendations on who you should be friends with. This is interesting, but if I asked straight out, wouldn’t that come across as slightly socially awkward? Of course, I had to test it out.
I asked three of my friends who else I should be friends with, and none of them suggested a real person! They all seemed confused as to why I was asking, one listed traits to look for in the ideal friend, and one suggested I just stick to being friends with dogs. Bottom line? I think this question is too direct, and just a little bit weird.
#7 – Leave your House
Haha, what? But I love my house! Of course, this makes sense. I’m in my house, and the rest of the world (including potential friends) is out there. Bustle suggests that I take advantage of the event invites that come my way: birthdays, special events at local businesses, etc. We don’t have tons of invites in our mailbox each week, but I did recently get one for a new mommy event at our town library. I’ll start small. I can commit to that.