Growing up, at school, we’re tossed into a group of peers who are involved in a similar life experience. The same applies for others’ on sports teams or various extracurricular clubs. Then in college, we meet a whole new slew of people we hope to connect with. Once in the workplace, we may enjoy the company of co-workers, but it doesn’t mean they’ll become our best friends.
Time to Bring in the New?
So, once we grow up, do we need to make new friends? First of all, your old friends can always remain friends, sometimes even for life. But as we shift positions throughout our aging journey, we have to expect that our needs will change too. Your “party” friend from your 20s may not enjoy a visit to the museum when you’re in your 40s.
Other “single” friends may not be able to relate when you are completely enveloped by parenthood. As you drift into your 50s and may be experiencing the empty-nest syndrome or are taking care of your own parents, you’ll need a crony who can relate somehow. With that established, it makes sense that we need to seek out new people in our lives for close friendship.
How do I Make New Friends?
Examine the things in your life that you’re passionate about. Do you love going to the movies? Are you an outdoorsy person? Do you like to volunteer? My mother, for example, loves geology, rocks, stones, and fossils.
She joined a lapidary group where like-minded folks get together and whittle down gems and stones into beautiful little pieces of art. The group chats up a storm while they are creating. That activity led her to find a small group of new friends who now spend Saturdays at fairs selling their jewelry together.
Don’t be afraid to join a class or a group. Everyone there had to muster up the courage to show up the first time. You’d be surprised how receptive people are to newcomers.
Once you get beyond the stage of making a choice in your interests and move forward to find the venue, you may consider brushing up on your social skills. It may sound silly, but after years of hanging with the same folks, our manners get rusty (or sloppy.) Believe it or not, first impressions still matter.
The most important element to keep in mind, and exude, is optimism. Others are drawn to positivity and promise. Make eye contact when talking. It’s important for the other person to see that you are listening. Plus, it will give you an opportunity to look at your conversationalist with an authentic stance.
Body language should always be appropriate. That includes not being a “close talker.” Give people their personal space. Also, feel out the situation before you make physical contact. You may be a person who loves to gesture, or tap people while you’re talking.
But remember, if someone doesn’t really know you yet, this may make them skittish to be around you if they don’t like to be touched.
We all need friends. It ‘s our connection with others that makes our lives rich and fulfilling. Keeping old friends is invaluable and precious, but new ones can add spice to our days. Keep Calm and Make Friends.