Meeting New Friends Throughout the Years
“The world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move.”
The above quote was something I recently heard while watching the movie, The Green Book, and it instantly grabbed my attention. It made me think about every time I moved to a new city and the initial feeling I had about making new friends. I wanted them, I needed them, but how could I possibly meet them?
Just to be clear, this isn’t a ‘how to’ on making friends when you move to another state. Just some insight on my personal experience and a little push to put your social foot forward. I’m 33 this year and can honestly say that I have great friends in many different places.
I’ll skip high school and college, as I truly feel they are a little different than the real world. In school, you are forced to be in the same room as one another and can easily meet people during social mixers, classes, and sports activities. So, we’ll move on…
I moved to San Diego when I was 22 years old, with a girlfriend I grew up with and zero fear of meeting new people or finding a new job (and might I add, first job out of college). Perhaps it was my confidence walking into a new place after St. Bonaventure, where I had many different friends, or the girl I was moving with had a big personality and was very outgoing. We drove cross country, landed at the nearest ocean, and literally ran out of our car to put our feet in the water. Super dramatic entrance, let me tell you. We spent the first couple days, running, living off of PB&J, interviewing for jobs, and getting out of the house to explore the new city. That first Sunday, we decided it was necessarily to put on our sporty shirts (I had to borrow her USC shirt since I’m not a big sports girl) and head to the nearest hip bar for football Sunday. We weren’t big fans of watching sports, but we knew we needed to be social in order to meet people. That afternoon, thanks to my outgoing friend, I met JJ. You’ve heard the story before, but I still find it fascinating that I happened to be at the right place (yet not my typical place) at the right time with the right person to meet my husband. If the situation would have been any different, we may not have met.
My first good girlfriend was Ashley, who was dating Alex, who were both friends with JJ. Another place I met friends was at my second job. A few months into working a very stressful job at an eating disorder rehabilitation center, I was let go due to the recession. JJ later helped get me a job at Ashford University, an accredited online education program where he was currently working. This was the most ideal situation for any 22-year-old looking to meet new people, as the entire Admin Coordinators (there were probably close to 50 of them) were around the same age. JJ and I also joined a kickball team before leaving a year later to move to New York City.
New York City
I remember receiving the call from JJ when I was on my break at Ashford. He was driving somewhere and voice shaking with excitement as he told me his uncles accepted him in the family business. For any of you who probably do not know, my husband’s family grows and sells produce in Southern California. He told me he would have to move to New York City for a short time, to then end up working at the partner brokerage firm in San Francisco. “So, do you want to go with me?” Without hesitation, I agreed. Even though we were dating only a year (or less at this point) I felt very excited for our future, and this felt like such a great step in the right direction.
We made a cross country trip in JJ’s Mazda 3 and had experienced great new cities in the US, drove to Niagara Falls, stopped for a week around Christmas in Syracuse, where we got engaged (no big deal) and enjoyed the holidays before driving to NYC the beginning of the year. We moved our new life into a basement apartment in Throggs neck, Bronx… a place where JJ’s cousins have previously stayed while joining the family business. To get a better understanding, JJ had to move to work at Hunts Point Produce Market, Bronx for a year to become familiar with sales in general but also observing what produce looks like once it’s shipped from California. Our experience in New York was like no other, as the stories could honestly keep going in this blog post, but perhaps I’ll save those for a rainy day. This post is about finding friends. After looking into nanny positions in the city, interviewing even with Amanda Peet and other families, I found myself choosing a job thanks to JJ’s family that was a little more corporate. I started working as an Administrative Assistant at 50thand Madison, making decent money but also working a side babysitting job after work during the week to pay for our future wedding. JJ worked crazy early hours, with very little income, so we often missed each other daily. It was a hard time for us, but we hustled, and we knew this wasn’t forever. One of JJ’s managers at the market told him about his daughter who DJ’d in the city. I don’t really recall the first time we met her, but once we did, we were invited to come hang at the place she DJ’d every weekend if we wanted. She would have a private table with a bottle of Jack Daniels and we would mingle with her friends and party all night long. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for us. Throughout the year, you’d find us at Hotel on Rivington, and catching up with some old friends from college. We didn’t have any extra money at the time, so this was truly a savior for us to be able to enjoy some of what this city has to offer. Side note: if you watched Total Bellas this season, during our mom’s night out, we just so happened to pick a place that Christa was DJ’ing at. They didn’t show it on the show, but when Bri and I were sitting there drinking our drinks with light up straws, Christa and I noticed each other and made a small scene.
After a year and a half of being in the big city, JJ moved to Fresno for a few months, while I shared a one-bedroom apartment with my sister and her roommate in Brooklyn. Once we finally arrived in San Francisco of March 2011, we married a month later in Nashville, and moved into our first apartment in Russian Hill. We were so happy and felt right at home. Since we were craving a new kickball team and had so much fun in our San Diego league, we knew we wanted to join another one immediately. We also quickly found out that we were neighbors with one of JJ’s best friends growing up, who also had a wife, Kendra that he went to high school with. We got together with them often as they were all about going to new places in SF. JJ was set up on a man date by his sister Nicole and her best friend Shawna, to meet her brother and hopefully hit it off. This was a start to a very hipster friendship. Peter introduced us to Tom, who had a Canadian girlfriend named Krystal, who was also very open to new friendships at the time since she didn’t know too many people. To this day, I can still say Krystal is one of my favorite people. Tom and Peter were also friends with Ian, who was the wild boy, but never afraid to be the third wheel. Frank, who also grew up best friends with JJ, moved to SF and later roomed with Ian. I had re-connected with two girls (twins) from college, and we often got together on the weekend. I know these relationships probably just made you dizzy, but that’s how quickly one new connection was. We went from moving to a new city, to have a very large group by the time we left for Phoenix, 3 years later.
Now, this was the hardest move for me. It was a push/pull to make the decision to move out of San Francisco as we declared this our forever home at one point, had the best group of friends, and really just loved where we lived. Our struggle was financial and the decision to move in order to raise a family and purchase a home. It wasn’t in the cards for us in San Francisco and probably wouldn’t have been for a long time if we stayed. So, we made the mature decision to move out of San Francisco and back to Phoenix, where JJ grew up and where he could take a position at his mom’s company as a recruiter. I wasn’t excited for the move and truthfully looked at Arizona as a boring place to live. A little naïve, I know, as I’ll be the first one to phrase Arizona now… but I think I was also bitter because I felt I was walking into a situation where JJ was moving back home. Back to where he had family and childhood friends and I had none of those (in my mind). Every other city felt like we were moving somewhere new together and I’d have to start over again. We drove from San Francisco with our one pup Lucy in the middle of July in 120-degree weather. Our AC broke in our apartment and I remember just sitting on the floor crying in frustration. I thought, where was I and what were we doing? The rest of that month, we did what you’d assume, get our new place together and hang out with his high school friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love his friends, who are also my friends, but at the time… I wanted to meet friends of my own. So, I asked JJ to connect me with someone he knew, reached out, and asked to have her and two girlfriends come over for dinner. I cooked, one got pretty wasted, and the girl and I (not the wasted one) became good friends the rest of that year. This was one of my biggest strengths when meeting new people. If we meet, and we click… then you’ll forever be included in group dinners and birthday parties. I love getting new people together and inviting EVERYONE I know. Yet my big break was attending events for the blog and getting involved in the fashion community. I attended Phoenix Fashion Week by myself, met my first blogger friend, and later met so many others the same way. Photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists, and many other bloggers and creators I’ve met along this blogging journey have become some of my best friends. For that I am so grateful. I took a coffee date from a girl who was working at Neiman Marcus at the time, she seemed like she was looking to connect for the blog, but in actuality, was also looking to meet new friends. We found out on our coffee date that she was dating one of JJ’s sister’s friends from HS. Too small of a world. A few years later, I was in her wedding and she is considered one of my closest friends today. Even though I have two babies now, and I know I’ll meet so many women because of that alone, I find it so important to stay connected and make effort with the amazing women I’ve met in Arizona. Its such a great community.
So, let’s go back to that quote. “The world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move.” Nothing will change your situation if you do not get out of your box (house/apt) and do something about it. This goes for all situations to be honest, but a huge way to meet people, is putting yourself out there and MEETING people. It doesn’t mean you have to become best friends. There are many people I have met throughout my life that I just didn’t click with in the long run… and that’s ok! But, if I didn’t go on the coffee date, attend phoenix fashion week alone, or make an effort… I’d be in a much different situation with friendships today. So, take that exercise class, suggest a play/wine date with your kid’s friends mom, or attend an event (even by yourself). I know of a few women who are attending my Citrine event next weekend by themselves and I think that’s truly AMAZING! A few of them already started writing to one another via photo comments. I know it gets harder with age and even after having kids, but never stop making the effort. Even if you have breaks, make a list if you have to on who you need to get together with. It will help.
Where do YOU find friends?
I’ve asked my followers to give me a few places that they have had success in meeting friends. See list below.
- Group exercise classes
- Dog park
- Apartment complex
- My kid’s school/preschool
- Playground with my kids
- Joined a mom club
- Mommy and me music class
- Modern Milk (new moms)
- Fit4mom workouts
- Bumble BFF (do not have to be a mom)
- Peanut App (to meet other moms and set up play dates with kids the same age)
- “I got a part-time job in retail to meet some new people. Still my LOFT BFFs.”
- Attending local community events
- Co-ed rec teams
- Moms group from Facebook (you can look up your area and find the people you live close to)
- NextDoor app
- Meetup- website that you can find people doing the things you like in the area
- MOPS- Moms of preschoolers
I hope this post was insightful and helpful to those of you still in a rut about finding friendships in your city or nervous about a future new move. You got this!