You're Not a Kid Anymore. So How Do You Make Friends?
it might sound silly, but making friends as you get older is ... different
It might feel a little embarrassing to talk about, but making new friends as an adult is harder than it was when you were a kid or a teenager – for about a million reasons. It’s a topic the New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and more have explored, so clearly, we’re all somewhat likely to realize we don’t know how to make friends as an adult. What do we do?
In a place like the Chippewa Valley, there are watering holes aplenty – bars, I mean. But not everyone drinks alcohol and not everyone likes to hangout at bars, period. So, that’s an obvious place to meet new people, but maybe it’s not your go-to to make friends (although if it is, you can do worse than check out the top three places the Best Bar for Talkin' category of our most recent Best Of the Chippewa Valley Reader's Poll: The Brewing Projekt, The Joynt, and 3rd and Vine).
There’s also a plethora of coffee shops in the area, and honestly, a lot of people are there by themselves or in small groups, which feels a bit more approachable in my eyes. At a spot like Racy D’Lene’s Coffee Lounge (404 Riverside Ave., Eau Claire), there’s coffee bar seating where you can even chat with a barista or someone next to you, or mosey on over to the couch area and see who’s hangin’ out there. Plus, coffee shops in the Valley are popular places for different organizations and community members to hold events, so trying out a reoccurring group at a casual coffee joint is an easier way to get yourself out there and hopefully get to know the same set of people.
And that’s another thing, too. Getting yourself out there to try new things – such as new volunteer efforts, organizations, etc. – can be hard, especially having grown up in an age where it might feel more comfortable to chat via text than face to face. (I would know, year 2000 baby right here!) But hey, while you’re hiding your face behind that mobile screen, you could try connecting with people there, too. I have a friend who moved from Wisconsin all the way to Florida, and she met one of her best friends there on Bumble. No, not the dating app, but Bumble BFF, the friend-making app. It can’t hurt, right?
Basically, I’ve found that if you enjoy a certain hobby or activity, there are bound to be others in your area who enjoy those things too, and there’s likely a place where those sorts of people congregate. A yoga studio, the public library, a music event, a book store or club … you get it.
I actually think the hardest thing about making friends now that we’re not all kids anymore is that we get in our own way. We overthink how to introduce ourselves or how to do something new we probably won’t be good at right away. We got too comfortable in our cozy beds and behind our phones during the pandemic and just don’t remember how to socialize like before. We read into people’s responses, or lack thereof; and we’re just not kids anymore.
But hey, at least we’re all in the same boat. Since we’re stuck here, we might as well get to know each other.