Creating and maintaining friendships post grad can be difficult, especially if you have chosen to relocate after graduation. Moving to a new town where you have to completely start over can make creating friendships especially daunting. Even if you have chosen to stick around in your home state, you may find that as you are growing and changing, your relationships are as well. Here are a few things I have learned in my journey to creating and maintaining adult relationships in young adulthood.
Be open to where your next friendship may bloom/watch your energy. You are upset about not having any friends now that you have graduated college and moved to chase a dream or a job. When was the last time you has a conversation with that coworker whose clothes you always adore? What about that person in your church volleyball team that always seems to be in a great mood. Conversely, what things are you doing to attract the “right” kind of people in your life. (“right” is whatever you want it to be). You want cheerful people in your life, but are you walking around with a smile or resting b**** face? You want to attract productive people in your life, what have you done to be more productive? Join local groups, say more than hello to co-workers and be aware of what vibes you are putting out.
Reach out. Don’t just comment on her/his Instagram photo “Miss you! We need to hang” and then wait three months until you even look at a calendar. Do it now. As soon as your get the reciprocal green light “Omg, yes! Let’s!” Do it. Look at your Google Calendar, open up your planner, think about the week you have ahead and plan something.
Be thoughtful about who you spend your time with. As a young adult, I am learning, growing, shifting some of my perspectives, formulating my opinions and figuring out exactly who I aim to be. Spend time with people who are on a similar path. Positive people who have goals and aspirations. If you hang with negative people who allow themselves to be stuck where they are, get ready for some of their habits to rub off on you. Who do you aim to be? Find people who are going to push you, be honest with you and be constructive with their time.
Make each meeting meaningful. Step outside of small talk. Be vulnerable. One of my biggest pet peeves is small talk. Sadly, when you are no longer in school, sitting next to the same person every Tuesday morning at 10am for class it can become hard to build new friendships. You have to start somewhere, and initially, small talk will lead you to reveal what surface level things you have in common. You both like to cycle, you both have young children, you both enjoy Rihanna’s newest album, or you both go to the same church. Great! In order to build deep, long lasting relationships, you have to step out of comfortable topics and get personal. What things are you struggling with right now? What goals are you looking to accomplish in the next year? Sharing more personal stories and goals are a great way to build trust as well as gain a cheerleader. Sharing personal goals can feel daunting, embarrassing and unnecessary, but studies have shown that having an “acountabilibuddy” (thank you South Park) can be great for your future success! Use each other to help reach goals. Check on each other throughout the month to see that certain tasks are completed. Use these meaningful friendships for more than venting!
Know when a relationship is done. You have reached out, made lunch dates, tried pushing past small talk but something simply does not feel right. Maybe you feel as though you are the only one making effort, the only one working towards personal goals, maybe your goals are simply different than theirs. Do what feels right. If you are rolling your eyes and dreading meeting with someone, stop. That icky feeling means a boundary has been crossed with this friend. You can either choose to address it or decide to walk away. Of course, I always advocate for transparent honesty; trying to address the concern before throwing in the towel. But at the end of the day, we all day what we feel is best for us. Do not feel bad about walking away from relationships. Your time is precious and should be used accordingly. I would rather start from scratch with someone new then carry on a relationship that only tears me down.