I didn’t realize until I was 25 that all of my schooling missed out on educating me about a very important topic–MAKING FRIENDS! I had no idea how to intentionally make a new friend.
When you’re in school your entire life, friendships just happen. It’s about proximity–youth groups, people who live in your neighborhood or who happen to have on the same color shirt. It’s never that deep. You just fall in with groups of people. I never had to approach anyone and say, “Will you be my friend?”
Friendships in college pretty much abide by the same system. Your first friends will be your roommate and the people who live on your first-year hall. At some point, you might decide to join a student organization(s). You’ll have people in your classes that you’ll connect with because of a group project or because you sit in the same seat/table 2-3 times out of the week.
So, that’s cool.
BUT, I challenge you to do more. Go that pretty sparsely populated extra mile.
Approach people who aren’t in your convenience bubble. See someone who just looks like a good person to know? Say, “Hey!” Perhaps you’ve heard good things about a person. Say, “What’s up?” Did your RA give you the contact information of a student who’s involved in a project that might interest you. Email, “Let’s get coffee.” Keep seeing that same kid around campus, y’all always offer a smile to each other, but have no idea of each other’s names? Next time, stop and simply say, “Hi, I’m [insert name here].”
People are just people. They shouldn’t make you nervous.
Every person you meet is an opportunity to change your life. Think about all of the opportunities you miss by letting people pass you by day after day.
If this sounds crazy, then inch your way toward your goal:
– Visit a student organization’s meeting. Chat with someone about the membership experience. “Hi, I’m [you know what to do], could you tell me a bit more about your experience with this organization. I’m thinking of becoming a member.” Chat it up with that member and get some contact info for follow-up information.
– Sign up for a retreat offered by the university. Leadership, diversity, service, faith–offices are always taking students on retreats. You’ll meet a ton of new people after the slew of icebreakers you’ll be asked to do as a part of the program. You’ll also be away from campus and that increases students’ propensity to bond with people they don’t know. That’s why people like me do that in the first place. A little trick of the trade.
– Tag along with a hall mate who has an entirely different circle of friends than you do. Expand that network.
– Study Abroad during your time in college. It exposes you to an entirely new group of friends.
– If at all desired, spend a summer in your college town. Since a large amount of students will have vacated campus, those students who remain often bond over their summer destination and establish a whole new friend group.
Whatever your normal path to making friends –deviate from it and take a new route to great relationships. If you master the art of this short but multi-step process, you’ll have a full life of friend making even long after you graduate college.
Step 1: Say hi!
Step 2: Chat with open-ended questions, active listening, and smiles. Show interest in them.
Step 3: Say, “This was fun, let’s get together.” or “We should hang out.”
Step 4: Add, “Can I get your email, phone number, Twitter/Instagram handle, name of your messenger owl?”
Step 5: Follow-up with provided information. Remind them of where you met, tell them you enjoyed meeting them, offer an opportunity to meet up, and a “Can’t wait to hear from you.” or “Looking forward to it.” or “Sounds chill.” —Whatever, you kids say these days.
Step 6: Actually attend the planned event.
Step 7: Step 3 (add an “again” or “We should do this again.”) + Step 5 + Step 6
Wash, rinse, repeat.
This is a challenging process for many people esp. 18-22 year olds, but once you’ve got the hang it, your life is going to become ridiculously incredible.
Why? Because most people want to meet other people. Most people want to know other people. Most people are just sitting around waiting for someone else to plan their social calendar. Most people have a difficult time engaging in this process. You do this and you win.
You’re not always going to find your next bridesmaid or groomsmen but you might meet a lovely human being who adds value to your life. Occasionally, you might meet someone who doesn’t really tickle your fancy but, there is nothing like a good moment of clarity around the kinds of people you want to fill your life and the kind you hope to keep extremely removed from your lived experience.
College creates a small world within a very large world and I promise you’ll bump into these people in the most random corners of your life. You’ll run into that guy from the retreat during a game of kickball, the person you studied abroad with works at your new law firm, the girl who was great friends with your hall mate is the volunteer coordinator of your favorite local non-profit.
This is life.
Do yourself a favor during this first- year of college and make some inconvenient friends.