Have you seen this yet? Ball Pit Turns Strangers Into Friends
No? Go ahead and click on it. It’s only a few minutes and sooo worth the watch. I’ll wait.
……….. *this is me waiting*………….
Back? Great! What did you think? Amazing huh? Don’t you think we need more ball pits in the world?
I mean making friends when you’re a kid is SO easy. Whether it be a ball pit, playground, sandbox, or lunchroom table at school, making friends as a child pretty much consisted of 3 actions:
1. Make eye contact.
2. Laugh at something together, OR share something with each other, OR like something the other person has/is wearing/etc.
Of course there are those special exceptions, like when an adult forces you to be friends aka like how I met my dear friend Meghan way back in once upon a time time (6th grade). Our teacher asked us if we would befriend this poor child who was just a social outcast in our class. I guess she pegged us as the “nice girls” and within moments we were game-planning how we would befriend the girl. Flash forward to 2013 and Meghan and I are still great friends.
Unfortunately, when the school and college days are over, and you’re faced with jobs, relationships, responsibilities and babies, making friends becomes a thousand times more complicated. And I don’t think it’s for lack of trying. It just becomes more of an awkward ordeal than when we were kids. I mean just try going up to that friendly looking individual walking around Target, gripping the same Starbucks drink as you are, and try to drum up a conversation about that stylish lamp in her shopping cart.
Suddenly you’ll be on her Instagram with a hashtag #Targetstalker.
Right now I’m very fortunate to have an awesome group of girlfriends whom I have met over the past few years (yes, as an adult!) that completely have my back, and can laugh with through all of our life adventures. Some of them I met through mutual friends; some through teaching; some I met through blogging; others through Meetups and events; and some through social media & websites! I was lucky enough to never have to follow someone around a grocery store. Yet.
I’ve seen a lot of talk lately on social media about adult friendships. When the ball pit video was making the rounds, I knew something was definitely up. Maybe it’s more noticeable when you’re in your mid-30′s that making new friends IS quite the feat. Maybe it’s because by the time we’re in our 30′s we’ve lost friends, been hurt, etc. and we know how it could pan out, so we avoid it altogether? Maybe we feel like we just don’t have the time in our busy lives to get to know someone new.
However, when you realize that good friends are a necessity, you put the work into finding them, and keeping them. Sometimes there’s an instant connection and no work is needed at all. Sometimes you feel the need to give a person an application. (I’ve never done this. Just for the record).
Here are my tips for meeting new people, and making life long friends. I’m no friendship expert (I’ve had my share of disasters!), but maybe you’ll be able to take something from this post and get out there and mingle!
*Avoid befriending co-workers outside of the job (unless you change companies, then by all means, go for it!). Seriously. All you’ll do is talk shop, and even though you’re in your 30′s, you may still do or say something you don’t want the entire office knowing about. Skip it and talk about how Clint Eastwood’s son makes you sweaty outside of the workplace.
*Join a Meetup group, club, volunteer organization or sports league. Finding others with common interests is the best way to drum up conversations and make connections that will lead to potential long-lasting friendships. Oh, and make sure you talk to people and don’t just stand there like a statue. Smile, make eye contact, crack a joke or two. Otherwise you’ll end up on Instagram, yet again. Hashtag #weirdstatueperson
*Strike up a conversation with someone. I mean, ok, you could totally compliment Target lady about her lamp choice without potentially ending up on Instagram. But it’s necessary to learn how to feel people out. If she says “thanks” and walks away quickly, don’t follow her. If she says “thanks- I think it will go great with the color I just painted my living room”, feel free to proceed with step 2 and ask her about the color. Look for those natural opportunities to extend conversations.
*Use social media to your advantage. Branching out from groups, clubs and Meetups by making connections with your newfound acquaintances on SM platforms. Make sure it’s mutual. For example: after a volunteer day, you might talk about another opportunity you know about and suggest to potential friends that you connect through email or Facebook to talk about the details. If they agree, then they might be open to getting to know you better and participating in more projects with you in the future!
*Keep things no pressure. Friendships should progress naturally. Don’t expect to be BFF’s in a day.
*As relationships evolve from acquaintances to friends, always remember to be reliable, honest, loyal, trustworthy, a good listener and a good friend. What does it mean to be a good friend? It means you have something to bring to the table. Dumping all of your “woe to me’s” onto a person day in and day out is exhausting, and it will push people away. Friendships need a good balance of give and take. Make sure you recognize your own strengths and know what you can contribute.
*Choose your friends wisely. Don’t befriend someone just because. If a friendship becomes unhealthy, stressful or demanding, move on. There is no time for negativity and unhealthy relationships at our age!
*Introduce new friends to your current friends. That’s the easiest (and best) way to build a network of awesome people to surround yourself with!
Do you find you have trouble making friends as an adult? What are some things that have worked for you?