You’re Never Too Old To Find New Friends
With a relatively normal 4th of July celebration in the books, more and more of the country is racing back to normalcy.
And after a year full of change, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Change that includes millions of families moving over the past year, the potential for huge numbers of employees leaving their jobs, and even the shifting dynamics of friendships.
That last one hits close to home for all of us, extroverts and introverts alike. The past year shuttered big parties and intimate dinner catch-ups, even turning casual catch-ups into a labored experience (“Yes, we’re doing well, all things considered….”).
And of course, we’re all a year older, and making friends isn’t getting any easier.
While it can feel like the last year is nothing but missed opportunities and friendships gone by the wayside, there is hope.
And sometimes the first step in moving forward is letting go of the past.
Why It’s Okay To Let Friends Go
Friendships fading away may seem like an odd side effect of the pandemic, given how frozen in place so many other things were, but it’s just a natural process. It may just be that we’re more attuned to it now because we’ve been spending more time on social media, so even our old friends pop into our lives on a regular basis.
Still, it doesn’t have to be personal. Just because they’re still enjoying their life isn’t an indictment of you.
So instead of obsessing over what was, what happens when you decide to move on? How can you gently let go of the old to make room for the new?
As PsychCentral suggests, you can set yourself at ease in a number of ways:
- Creating your own closure - write a letter to them (you don’t have to send it) or visit a place you used to go together
- Letting yourself grieve - Friendships don’t always have the breaking point that relationships can, but they’re intimate bonds nonetheless, so you can take time to appreciate them
- Concentrating on something new - Putting your energies towards yourself and your interests will help connect you with new people
Get Used To Getting Uncomfortable
As people, we can get used to just about anything. We get used to tiny apartments. We get used to our partner’s ways of cooking eggs. We get used to sitting in traffic.
Basically, we get comfortable. And as we get comfortable, it gets harder to change. But if you’re looking to fill in the gaps in your social life - because you’ve lost a few friends, you’ve changed jobs, you’ve moved towns - it’s time to get used to getting uncomfortable.
One way to motivate yourself is to turn that discomfort into an achievement (try this IRLA ‘Getting Out There’ Pack, for example) and reward yourself by taking a dance class, an improv class, or starting a conversation with a complete stranger.
Another way might be to remove your Plan B, your fallback, or your built-in distraction. Heading to a local dance night? Leave your phone in the car to stay in the moment, mingling and interacting with people. Going to a talk or a workshop? Don’t leave without asking a question of the organizers or the guests. You’ve already made the big step to get out there - the rest of it is the fun part!
As for last year - what’s happened has happened. The friends who want to be in our lives will find their way back, and the ones that don’t, won’t.
The good news is that you’re not alone - everyone’s in the same boat, looking to find their place in the world, too. It just takes getting out there!
So we’re curious - do you have any tricks for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone?