For me, one of the most challenging parts of making the transition from college to the real world was how different my social life and friendships looked. In college, I was constantly surrounded by people and always had the opportunity to begin new friendships. I went to a huge college so there was never a lack of people to meet.
Then I graduated and was separated from the majority of the people who I had spent the last 4 years building a relationship with. I soon found out that making friends and forming community in the real world is a lot different than it is in college.
I think this transition time from college to the real world can lead to a lot of loneliness for people. This transition is often met with a new city and a new job, and on top of that the relationships we had come to rely on are no longer directly present.
I desire deep friendship, not just the kind of friendship you have with a drinking buddy or the coworker you send memes to, but someone who knows you on deep level (though those types of friends are good to have also), someone you feel comfortable sharing anything with, someone who you can call crying for whatever reason.
True friends are everything. When life is difficult and you don’t know what to do, friends can be the safety net you need. With true friends, joy is greater and struggle is more bearable. There is something absolutely transforming about feeling like you belong, and that you are loved exactly for who you are. In some way, I think we are all on a search to be known and loved by the people in our life.
You deserve to feel safe and known by your community, but it might take some effort on your part to get there. Authentic friendship takes time, effort, and vulnerability. Here are some sources of friendship you can seek out, and different ways to build those friendships.
Sources of Friendships
Roommates/Family - the most present, live with people you can lean on.
Work - You spend so much time with these people, if you pay attention they can become your closest friends. Even if they don’t, it’s worth it to like the people you work with.
Sports League - One of my friends gets incredible community from the ultimate frisbee league she’s a part of. If you’re into something, find a league and join a team.
Gym - I’m a member at a crossfit gym and it is one of my best and most consistent forms of community
Clubs - There are clubs for nearly everything. What do you love to do? Find other people who love it too. Go to https://www.meetup.com/ to find groups of people you enjoy the same hobby as you.
Long Distance - So what if your best friends moved to another city? Technology comes to the rescue here, don’t let those friendships you have worked on for so long slip away.
Ways to Build Friendships
Take the lead - Don’t wait for friendships to fall in your lap. This will happen sometimes but it’s better to be proactive. If you want a deeper community and more vibrant social life, then be the person who starts.
Initiate spending time together - If you really want to branch out into real, meaningful friendships you’ll have to spend time with people outside of work/school. Find something you both enjoy (or your group) and go do that. A lot of friendships never move past the surface level because no one is willing to initiate the next step beyond what is comfortable.
Be vulnerable - No one will get to know you better if you aren’t willing to share what’s on your heart and mind. People are also more likely to open up if you are vulnerable first.
Be Patient - Meaningful friendships don’t typically happen very quickly. It takes time and intentionality. Ask questions and be open.
I know a lot of people can struggle with loneliness, and forming authentic friendships can be difficult, but I truly believe that having a close circle of friends who know you and love you deeply can make all the difference in your life. If you already have something like that, don’t let it slip away and be incredibly intentional to grow deeper. If you don’t have those friends, it’s up to you to make it happen, don’t wait around, you can start building friendships wherever you are.