When I first moved to Arizona, I knew no one.
There were so many unfamiliar faces and all the people I knew were back in California, where I had lived the first 18 years of my life.
All of my friends who I had bonded with over the years were no longer there to have deep talks with me at a local coffee shop.
There was no more walking to a friend’s house and figuring out what to do with our day.
Gone were the days of “Friday Adventures” where we hopped on our bikes with the sole purpose of getting ourselves lost and figuring out the way back home.
No more walking five minutes to the tennis courts and hitting until it got too dark to see.
The games I used to play late into the night with my friends’ voices accompanying me through my headset was the only connection I had left, which soon faded away as I put video games away forever.
But I wasn’t discouraged. Walking around my new school, I saw potential. New friends I could make and new stories I can learn about.
So I set a goal for myself to talk to at least one stranger a day. Whether it was in class, in the cafeteria, library, or just walking to my classes, I struck up countless conversations.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that although it was easy to make acquaintances, people who are in that ambiguous friends-but-not-really middle ground, making close friends who you genuinely wanted to spend a lot time with was difficult.
How Many Become Close Friends?
When I consider someone a close friend it means we make each other laugh, we can debate serious topics like philosophy and self-improvement, and we have a lot in common.
Out of all the people I became “friends” with during my year and a half at college, guess how many I’m close friends with today? Exactly two.
Throughout the years, all the small moments, the acquaintances, the friendships that faded away, all totaling to the hundreds or thousands, and the traveling, there are only 10 people who I still call my close friends today.
I have no idea if that number is high or low, but I can say I had to talk to and meet literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different people to make and hold onto those 10 close friends.
For most things, quality is incredibly difficult to come by. Whether it’s a best friend or a significant other you can fall in love with, quality doesn’t just fall from the skies.
Finding people you connect with on a whole other level is a rarity and requires you to get out there and meet a ton of people before you’re left with the ones you want to see again.
Making Friends is a Proactive Effort
People always talk about how difficult it is to make new friends outside of school and work, and they’re right! It’s hard as hell!
I’m not a student, so I don’t have the luxury of being surrounded by thousands of peers my age who many share a lot of my interests. Nor do I work in a job that has co-workers and I don’t come into contact with people face-to-face while I’m growing my business.
For me, meeting people is a proactive effort. I have to get out there and take a risk.
I have to extend my hand and introduce myself to start a conversation that may or may not “click”.
But there’s so much we can do to meet new people and increase quantity to eventually discover quality.
Sports like tennis has been a huge social driver for me in recent months. Everyone is out there playing the sport I love. Pretty easy common ground there.
Meetup.com is another good one. If you don’t have anyone to play sports with then there’s a good chance there’s already a meetup group filled with people looking to play whatever you’re interested in. If you prefer rock climbing, hiking, or even board games, there’s probably a group that meets regularly to do all of those things too.
Volunteering is how I met two of my best friends in college and it has the added benefit of making a positive change to your community. Check out Volunteer Match to find opportunities in your city.
Recently, I made a good friend by going to Toastmasters to practice my public speaking skills.
You can even be a bit more creative and take improv classes, dance classes, and take up something like yoga. Really, anything that gets you around people your age will do.
The good news is that you’re not the only one that feels like making friends is difficult as hell. It’s a common concern I hear from everybody.
No one will judge you for trying to make friends. In fact, if you’re proactive enough, it’s pretty admirable to watch from the sidelines. So don’t sweat it and don’t be so hard on yourself.
One quick note before I leave you to ponder: settle your expectations. You can’t expect every conversation, every moment to lead to an amazing friendship or relationship. Just get out there often enough and these things eventually happen on their own.
It’s not something you can force.
Not everyone has to be your best friend. Make acquaintances, regular friends, or friends who you only do certain things (like play tennis) with.
Don’t give up.
With quantity comes quality.