When I was a kid, I absolutely could not wait to leave school and grow up. I felt stifled by the obligation to endure hours of Maths and Science lessons, and like a weirdo amongst people who didn't really share my interest of 'get' the whole blogging thing. I made friends though, who I still love (and miss!) to this day, but I definitely couldn't wait to ditch the Electromagnetic Spectrum and Pythagoras' Theorem and spend all day being creative and developing my skills.
I found uni surprisingly difficult to make friends, but still ended up up thrown together with people the same age and the same interests and made some friends. But when graduation started approaching, I started to worry that this was my last chance to make REAL FRIENDS and that after we all moved out and went home, everyone wold forget about me and I'd be ALONE AND FRIENDLESS FOREVER.
After that, we moved to London for Martin's job, and that was the hardest part for me. I was happy to be there and excited to get on with our lives, but we had moved to an area where I knew nobody and I spent most of my day at home on my own, with only The Lady at the Post Office for company.
Luckily, it's been a year since them, and I'm happy to report that I am not quite yet ALONE AND FRIENDLESS FOREVER, but I think probably a lot of people feel this way after we leave the "friend-making-environment" of school and uni, especially if you are shy and introverty like me.
So, I put together a few of my tips for making friends in a non-cringy way that suits my anxious, introverted ways.
1. Internet Friends
People like to make out that the internet is ruining human relationships, but for me it has opened up a whole world of people who care about the same things that I do - that get the instagram/blog/pinterest thing, and another group of people who get the who running your own business thing. I am not one to just drop into someone's DMs and start a friendship (I am definitely not that brave) but I think the way that you can keep showing up in each other's consciousnesses until a friendship kinda forms is pretty cool.
2. Find Some Freelancing/Part Time Work
I know this is easier said than done, but if you can, it can make a lot of difference. I used to think having only "work friends" was completely lame (??? I have no idea why) but a lot of the time, heading into a studio to work as part of a team is the best part of my week. I work with a group of really awesome people who make me laugh and who i'd now count amongst friends.
3. Take a Class or Do An Event
I can feel you cringing at this suggestion, but please, don't wilt into your ceramics for beginners yet. (Unless that's your jam, obvs). I made some lifelong friends doing Renegade Craft Fair. They were all ladies I 'sorta' knew 'from the internet' but we teamed up to book an airbnb to save on accommodation expenses. After a weekend of weary limbs, hysteria, offensively heavy suitcases, some wine and a peculiar moment involving a bin bag, I made some for-life friends that I chat to every day and share all my wins and problems with.
If you're not a business owner, there's still plenty of options out there. I recently attended Charlotte from Betty's Email Marketing workshop which I left full of new ideas, but also new people to bond over subject lines and pixels with! I think when people hear "take a class" they immediately picture a kiddy ceramics class or some kind of team sports, but just taking a chance on something that sounds interesting you is a great way to find similarly minded people who you can easily add on insta afterwards ;) So go on, sign up to that Wine and Painting evening already!
4. Don't Rule Out People Older/Younger Than You
When you're 15, it seems inconceivable that you would be friends with someone 5 years older than you. But by the time you've left uni, age really doesn't make a difference anymore. I went from being one of the oldest in my year at school, to suddenly being the baby of all my friendship groups and I love it. It really doesn't effect how we talk or, really, how we hang out. And, I get the bonus of all of their collective wisdom on rent deposits, credit scores and paying taxes.
5. Look Around You At Your Family
Being an independent, autonomous adult has allowed me to spend a lot more time with some of my cousins. We were always close as kids, but it's been so valuable to me to spend the time and effort maintaining those relationships and staying in eachother's lives. It's been a great comfort to me to know that even if I never made another friend, I would still have them to love and support me. I know that sometimes family can be tricky, but maintaining our friendships (well, virtually sisterhood) as well as being 'relatives' has been so important to me, and made me feel much less alone.