Making New Friends as a Twenty-something

By: Jenna Michelle Reiss for Liminas Magazine

 PHOTO BY XXX

Tonight, I felt like grabbing a drink, maybe having a few laughs and some meaningful conversation. I wanted to hang out with someone I truly enjoyed, someone who nourishes my soul and brings a smile to my face.  I don’t want to call the “facebook friend”, or the friend I’ve known for forever but don’t REALLY know, and I definitely don’t want to call the party friend.

For us Liminas woman, the social scene during our post-college yet pre-marital years, can cause a lot of angst and frustration. Personally, I have quite suddenly found myself somewhere lost among friends I’ve known my whole life, friends that became family in college, and the friends I am supposed to make in this new “adult” life. To add to the dilemma of finding my place in this new social scene, I have my first real job that I actually care about proving myself in. This leaves me with very limited time to develop any scene at all. It is much different then the social life we’re used to having.

Growing up we all had our different social scenes. You were apart of the popular crowd, or the queen of sports. You had friends since the 2nd grade or younger, and your high school boyfriend was the guy that used to live across the street from you. Then, you move to college, where you are allowed to reinvent yourself. No one cares about what group you were a part of in high school, or what you got on your SAT’s. You become a new you. You grow into someone you start to truly understand. Rather quickly you develop a new social life that reflects this new you. It’s comprised of girls from your dorm hall, the sorority house and people from group projects. Then, because generally in college your biggest responsibility is making it to class, all your time is spent with your newfound family of friends who share your same interests. Quite literally your social life becomes your whole life. Unfortunately, sooner than you’d like, you hit 22, and you graduate.

Right when you had thought your safety net seemed solidified and unchangeable, you find yourself thrown back into the social unknown. For the most part you are solid distance away from the people that made your net, and you are placed smack in the middle of the real world. 

Adjusting to the real world social scene has been a transition I never read about in Cosmo or in any of my college textbooks. It has been much more difficult than I anticipated, and that is foreign for me because I am the social butterfly friend. I have always been a part of at least 3 different social scenes, I talk to everyone, and I love meeting new people. However, as a twentysomething woman, this new scene has caused me a significant amount of turmoil. The only solution I’ve found to ease the nerves is to go with the flow.

Similar to how you might start dating, the adult social scene requires you to meet friends in real world places. You are supposed to meet friends through work, through a friend, or in a workout class at the gym. You can no longer bond over your hatred of your soccer coach, complain about dorm food together, or live within a one-mile radius of everyone you know. I think the overriding problem is that it is much harder to become friends with other women than it is to get a date!

If you see a man and you want him, you could walk right up to him and ask him on a date (easier said than done I know). However, women are much harder to break into. You cannot simply walk up to a woman and ask her to be your friend. As intuitive and social creatures by nature, that behavior would immediately cause our red flags to go up. We would read that as needy, dramatic, and extremely uncomfortable. Asking for friendship is unacceptable because our relationships with one another are built over time. It’s important to us that we get to know one another in great detail, and as we analyze facial expressions, body language and listening skills, we will decide overtime whether another women will become our friend. 

Sometimes, I find my internal social butterfly pushing me to reach out, grab that woman I don’t’ know that well, and tell her that intuition tells me we would be good friends. Then we could instantly begin sharing and swapping our passions and life secrets. But then I remember the time and care it takes to build a beautiful friendship. I remember that the women I have in my life now are amazing women, and they will continue to be a part of my life for years to come simply because we took the time to build us.

It’s the quality of the friendship that matters most, and to get quality you need time.  It can be easy to leech onto the party friend or the Facebook friend when all your soul-filling friends are busy with their separate schedules. But instead, try practicing patience. With time, your intuition will prove to be right about that one woman friend.

Sooner than later you’ll be expressing your passions, reading and talking about your favorite book and listening to what makes your new friend tick. She’ll meet your other soul-filling friends and together you have begun conquering the adult social world. When you bond over passion, soul, emotions and interests, you’re building a lifelong friend. The kind of friend that will become the old lady in the rocking chair next to you. The one you will be taking lamaze classes with, and the one by your side through all the menopause and wrinkles. These are the friends that last a lifetime.