October 5, 2017
We are more connected to people today than we ever have been in history. Thanks to the internet, the iPhone, and social media we are one click away from people all over the world. We have the opportunity to meet and work with people we would have never been able to had it not been for technology. However, the millennial generation is the loneliest generation in history. According to the General Social Survey, the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. And our circle of confidants and trusted friends has fallen from three to two.
Why is it that the most connected generation is also the loneliest? I believe there are several reasons for this. Our cities are growing busier, our jobs are becoming more demanding, there is never time for rest. It’s simply easier to text a friend throughout the day than meet up for face-to-face interactions.
It is also just more difficult to make friends. Maybe you had great friends in college, but now you’re all over the country. Maybe you were part of a great community back home, but a job brought you to a new city where you know no one. I recently made a big move to a new city, and I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve found for making new friends and building community.
Anything worth having is going to cost us something. Friendship is no different. You have to be willing to put yourself out there; to step outside of your comfort zone. Whether that means going to a meet up or inviting a co-worker to happy hour, taking small steps toward connecting will result in big friendships.
If there’s someone you admire or have a common interest with online, send them a DM! Don’t be creepy about it, but introduce yourself and let them know you’d love to meet in person. People are generally incredibly kind and welcoming if we give them the chance. I recently reached out to a girl who has a book Instagram account because I am passionate about books as well. We ended up getting brunch and talking dreams! And the next weekend, we got brunch again with five other girls!
Friendships are not one-sided. In order to make friends, you need to listen to people as much or more than they listen to you. Show genuine interest in others lives’. Listen to their hopes and dreams, worries and stresses, and you will make friends quick. People just need people. Be the person who is there, in the big and small ways. Trust me, they will notice and they will become fast, loyal friends.
Building deep, lasting friendships takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It’s not easy, and getting to know someone is mostly awkward. You have to be willing to go through the beginning, sometimes shallow stages of friendship in order to get to the deep, beautiful parts. But it’s worth it. Hard work always yields the best results, and it will yield the best friendships as well.
And remember, you are not the only one who feels lonely. Everyone is craving community just as much as you are. If there isn’t already a community for you to join in and be a part of, start it! If you’re having a difficult time finding life-giving relationships, be proactive about seeking people out. Chances are people are wishing for the same kind of tribe you are, you just have to be willing to put in the work. Don’t give up. Be the type of community you need and I promise, people will be drawn to it.