Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Not Alone Series: Making Friends

We LOVE the NAS community, but creating a real-life community is essential to our lives! What have been your struggles in making friends as a young adult? Do you have any advice for those struggling to build community post-college?

"Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another" Prov 27:17

I would love to say that my greatest struggle to making friends as an adult has been that I am shy and introverted. While that has played a major part I would say my biggest obstacle was my old friends or should I say my old way of making friends.

As a child I was very much a loner, happy just to read a book. I also had a ton of friends that I didn't have to make myself. I come from a large extended family with cousins of varying ages plus the area I lived in families had as much as 11 or as little as 2 kids and we all just played together. As you got older you just stuck closer to those you had more in common with and there you have it friends with no effort.

It doesn't work as easily as that in the young adult/adult world.

I have a great group of Catholic friends who I did not know since I was two or probably longer and they didn't just appear on my doorstep although that would have been nice. I had to step out of my comfort zone.

Do something different - I went to a retreat on my own. I didn't really go to make friends although I wasn't against it but I was starting to take my Faith a little more seriously and some of my friends were stepping back from theirs. I just needed something. I tried to get a friend to go with me but she didn't want to go so I went alone something I never did. A whole weekend surrounded by people I did not know was positively my worst nightmare but it was one of the best weekends I spent, this may sound mean but it helped that my room-mate couldn't make it so I had my solitary time when I needed it. I had to put myself out there a little but everyone was really nice and I did make some good friends.

Join something/get involved - I would say this one was really crucial in my making friends. One of my friends from the retreat heard about a conference that a group was having and she invited me. We had really hit it off, had hung out since then so I thought why not. The group that I am now very involved with (my friend who invited me is not) is exactly what I was looking for. It's a community. It's a group of young, Catholic adults 21-40 that meet regularly for bible study, prayer or something, we also hang out together and do crazy things like have mid-night barbecues because someone thought it was a great idea at 2 in the morning.

Say Hi - Okay I wasn't the one to say hi but it still worked for me. Maybe you've seen someone around that you think looks interesting. Maybe they've been reading a book that you've always wanted to read or that you read and loved. Maybe you just like their sense of style. It doesn't hurt to just say hi, make some small talk mention the book, compliment her shoes or hair or that great dress you would love to know where she got it. It may lead to a great friendship, a casual acquaintance or a one off conversation.

My church is small, more old people than young but we have slowly been getting more young people and families these last couple of years. Most of the things I am involved with is outside my parish but I try to invite some of the younger people when we have something going on. It has not really worked out for me as yet but I can't stop trying. I also need to make the effort to get more involved in my own Parish.

My tips are mainly church based but you can apply them anywhere. I did a cooking class about a year ago, I even volunteered to do the first demonstration. Totally out of my comfort zone, didn't make any lasting friendships but I did have some good conversation and got some practice at putting myself out there.

Making and and keeping friends as adults takes some effort on our part. I have learnt to value the few friendships I have made in the last few years.

How have you made friends? What are your suggestions? See what everyone has to say. Visit Jen for the link-up.