There is an unspoken difficulty about becoming an adult…
making new friends is really effing hard.
One of the many bubbles you live in during college is the ability to meet people who are like you really easily. Whether it’s in classes, Greek life, student clubs and organizations, Student Government not to mention the plethora of events put on. No one talks about what happens when you leave University and what the real struggle is. No one talks about a lot of things like health benefits, how to pay off debt, 401ks and Roth IRAs, credit scores, how to buy a car, I mean I could go on and on but one of the most important to me personally is the ability to meet people and make new friends. I mean finding a job is easier than finding your wolf pack post-college and NO ONE WARNS YOU ABOUT THIS. How do people just forgot to talk about? This is what I needed a warning about!
I had a job lined up before I even graduated the University of Central Florida (go Knights) in 2012 that was purposefully in a new city because I wanted to get away. But no one told me that even though I would now be making good money I would have no one to spend it with. I used to be able to throw a stone and find 10 people to eat lunch with every day- I swear for the first 22 years of my life I never ate a meal alone and then all of a sudden I was in a new city, working, making my own money and there was no one to call to come and eat a meal with me let alone entertain me at a moments notice. It was shocking. I mean college is an alternate universe for many reasons but no one warns you the ease you had meeting people would not follow you wherever you go. I had nowhere to start. I mean I probably should not be that dramatic because technically I was within a two-hour drive to UCF, I did have friends living in cities nearby and I worked A LOT and by the time I got home I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to sleep. But even with all those excuses it still wasn’t the same. I really didn’t have those best friends to tell me to sleep when you’re dead and to drag me out to explore and eat good food. For the first time ever I was lonely if I really think about it.
Another big thing holding me back was that deep down I knew I was not going to stay in Florida so I didn’t want to make an effort to meet people who would give me a reason to stay. Basically worked and met up with different people I knew from college on the weekends for the two years I lived there and did not meet anyone new except for the people I worked with. Thank goodness I loved them.
Fast forward to moving to Atlanta in the summer of 2014. I was lucky when I moved here (for many reasons) that there were also 2 people (one of them being James and one of them my best guy friend from college) I knew from UCF who just moved here too and my best friend lived here (her roommate also went to UCF) already knew people and was ready to welcome me in. Between knowing those few people, we took in a few more people and formed our little pack. It was a lot of fun while it lasted. I once again had people to go grocery shopping with, eat every meal with and a place to go after work besides my own. Of course, things happen, people got new jobs, they moved, made new friends, James and I started dating and our little group drifted apart.
Soon James and I were living together and spending a lot of time together and I realized we didn’t really have our own lives going. We had each other and our jobs and that was about it. We hated that. We are both social people, especially James and it wasn’t like us to only know one another in a huge city that offered so much. So in the beginning of 2016 I made a goal to meet people, to put myself in situations where I had to introduce myself to anyone and everyone and get below the surface conversations of what do you do and where are you from only to then never talk to them again. To be honest, I needed friends.
One of my first steps on this journey was Buckhead Church. I want to talk about everything this place has done for me for the past three years but the people it has put in my life is a good place to start. Buckhead believes in communities, it believes that a relationship with God does not happen in the rows of a church but the circles we form in our communities, it believes in making it easier to meet people and that when you meet people who also share a connection with God that is where real relationships start.
They have a pretty amazing small group program. James had already been a part of a men’s small group for over a year so I knew I wanted and needed to join a women’s group the first chance I got. I was so freaking nervous, it felt like sorority recruitment all over again when I walked into the auditorium with my number to find 7 other women that shared the same number as me and who, without a doubt, were put into my life for a reason. It happened on a cold January Friday night when much of Atlanta had shut down due to a snow storm coming in that night (Atlanta stops functioning if someone thinks it will snow). So I had a great reason not to go but I knew if I didn’t I would never go. It was the beginning of 2016 and this was the first chance I had to start going after my goal of meeting people. If you have any opportunity to do something like this DO IT! I am not a bible thumper, I do not have the bible memorized, I can’t even quote a verse to you. All I know is I want to be a good person and Buckhead makes that easier so I knew they might also have other people who think the same way.
There is no other way our 8 very different lives would have crossed paths without Buckhead yet we all need each other so very much. It truly was meant to be. And the conversations I have with these ladies are deeper and more meaningful than with anyone else in my life. We just celebrated one year of our small group and it’s crazy to see how everyone’s lives have changed. New jobs, a wedding being planned, an engagement, new relationships, deaths, and breakups. You name it, we have been through it together and we always always get through it. You need a group like this is life, I promise you.
Next stop for meeting people was getting more involved in my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s alumni group. I already had a pretty good friend in Atlanta who had been a Kappa at another school and who was my buddy at the few events I has been attending but she was planning on heading back to school to get her doctorate that summer and would be moving away so I knew I had to start being brave and going to events on my own. So that is what I did. I have met some pretty great girls and one girl, in particular, Steph and I have become close. At least once a month we are at a Kappa event together and I love spending time with her. Our conversations always go deeper and we find our lives in very similar sports right now. Sometimes you do need someone like you who just gets it.
The Atlanta Track Club has also been a way to meet people. People who love doing what I do, run. They are old, young, fast, walkers, doing it to lose weight, stay healthy, newbies, whatever. But when I do a training program, I find myself in a pace group, with the same people for about 3 months, waking up and meeting every single Saturday at 7 am, when you could be sleeping. It is a special bond. Not everyone would choose running over sleep, I doubt myself every single weekend of these programs HA. But I keep coming back and doing their programs, to put myself in situations where I can meet new people and where I am spending time with people from all walks of life, where sometimes the only thing we have in common is running. The people you run 10 miles of Atlanta hills with are very special people, you won’t find them just anywhere. (side not, I also did Kickball, I did not find my people there but James did so you can also do something like that!)
I also decided to join the Junior League of Atlanta. This is everything and nothing like I thought it would be. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought to meet people but I do have one girl, Julie who I talk to weekly, adore and have quickly become good friends with. However, in an unexpected way, Junior League has given me a chance to impact the community. They are so involved in Atlanta especially when it comes to childhood education, generational poverty, and sex trafficking. If there is a non-profit, event or law being passed that has to do with any of those three things they are supporting it in one way or another. And when I joined I had no idea what the political climate would the following year but to be a part of a strong organization, run by women, doing HUGE things for Atlanta- man that helps put everything in perspective and has helped me find places to put my energy when I feel so helpless. You need to be a part of your community!
The last thing I encourage you to do is reach out to people you may know in your city. Maybe it was someone you went to high school or college with, a friend-of-a-friend or someone you lost touch with but you know you have something in common with. Be the BRAVE person and text them or Facebook message them and ask to meet up. I started to do this and no not everyone makes the effort to actually get together but remember if you are having trouble meeting people so are other people! You reaching out could be exactly what they need and could be the start of something great. And if you reach out, exchange a few messages but if they never make a move to follow through on plans- that is okay too. Meeting people is about putting yourself out there and you are not going to click with everyone. But you never know unless you try.
I can tell you making it a conscious effort to meet people in 2016 wasn’t always easy or rewarding and sometimes I did take the easy way out and avoid being the new person by staying home. But I can also tell you I have about 10 more really meaningful relationships that I treasure and women I would do anything for because of this past year. 10 women, who live close by, who I could call on a bad day to get ice cream with, who could entertain me on a moments notice. And that is worth more than pretty much anything else. Meeting people is hard, I wish I had the answer or secret sauce to finding your click and making that easy no matter where you live or what you are doing. But I don’t. It takes effort, it takes being the new person time and time again it means feeling awkward and insecure and explaining what you do and who you date about 1 million times. But people matter. Relationships matter. I know James and my relationship has gotten stronger because of the effort we have put into our personal lives too. You don’t know what you might be missing till you give finding your circle a shot.