I remember singing those words a hundred years ago when I was a young girl attending Girl Scout camp.
Okay–so maybe it wasn’t quite 100 years ago, but still…it was over three decades ago and the crazy thing is–some of the girls that I attended that camp with are still, to this day, dear friends of mine. In fact, I am blessed to be able to say that my first best friend (before we were even old enough to understand the concept of a best friend) is still my best friend to this day (I’m looking at you Mia!)
Friendship…I can’t imagine life without it. There is no better feeling than that of knowing that there are people in this world who love and accept you just the way you are. I for one would be absolutely lost without my precious “broad squad” and I give thanks for them every single day.
While I have been blessed to have some wonderful life-long friendships, there have also been times when I was faced with the prospect of having to make new friends. This happened when I went away to college and again when I left all of my family and friends behind to move to another state. Both of these experiences took some adjustment and forced me out of my comfort zone; however, both experiences resulted in additional friendships with more incredible women that I am blessed to have in my life.
If you are faced with a situation where you need to make new friends–or maybe you’re just looking to expand your current circle of friends, follow these 12 easy tips to make friends the easy way.
12 Easy Tips for Making Fab-YOU-lous Friends
1.) Talk to strangers. Yes–I know, mama always told you not to talk to strangers. Well…you’re no longer four years old so talking to strangers is perfectly acceptable and a great way to make a new friend. If you’re in line at the post office next to someone who looks fun–strike up a conversation. If you can’t think of anything to talk about–talk about how sloooow the line at the post office is. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that you have kids the same age or that you both like to run. Even if you don’t discover anything to base a potential friendship on, you’ve at least killed some time in line at the post office.
2.) Take a class. It is always fun to learn new things in areas that interest us. I’ve taken classes on everything from knitting to web design to money management. The best things about these classes is that I always walk away with a lot more than just increased knowledge–I walk away with a new friend or two as well. When I register for a class, I automatically know that I will be meeting new people with whom I already share one common interest (the class subject matter). The next step is simply showing up for the class and being friendly and approachable. I’m always amazed at the way things just tend to work out–the universe just seems to have a way of bringing the right people into my orbit and from there we are able to make meaningful connections and cultivate developing friendships. I’m sure that the same will be true for you as well. If you need some ideas on where to look for interesting classes, here are a few suggestions to consider…
Williams-Sonoma:Your inner epicure will delight in Williams-Sonoma’s weekly one hour technique classes. You can find a schedule of their weekly classes on their website.
Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, REI: If you are interested in honing your outdoor adventure skills, these three stores offer a variety of classes on everything from fly-fishing and archery to kayaking and camp cooking. Check your local store for class schedule.
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Michaels: Both of these stores offer a wide variety of in-store sewing, crafting, cake decorating, jewelry making etc. classes. Check with your local store to see what interesting classes are coming up.
Guitar Center: Try strumming a few bars in an in-store 60 minute guitar lesson for beginners.
Home Depot, Lowes: Whether you want to learn to build a birdhouse for your backyard or a backyard for your birdhouse–these two stores offer a variety of hands on DIY classes to help you build confidence in your handy-man, craftsman skills. Check with you local store for a full listing of upcoming classes and workshops.
Your local Cooperative Extension Service or Recreation Commission: From organic gardening to beginning tap dancing, your local Extension Office or Recreation Commission has a lot of wonderful classes to choose from.
3.) Attend a Conference. Just like taking a class will expose you to new people with similar interests, so will attending conferences. I attended my first ever blog conference back in February and am enjoying new friendships with several gals that I met while at the conference. Even though we all live in different states, we are able to use social media, email and good old fashioned phone calls to grow our friendships.
4.) Get Physical. Whether you truly enjoy working out or are just doing it because you know that you need to, there are plenty of other people in the same boat. Try joining a running group or signing up for a pilates class. While it might be tough to maintain any friendly chit-chat while you’re huffing and puffing (and grunting, crying, cursing etc.) there is always time to do a little friendly mingling before and after your workouts. Another twist on this suggestion is to join a local team for a sport that you love. Several years ago, I joined a co-ed softball team called the Sons of Pitches (I’m not kidding–that’s really our name). When I joined, I didn’t know anyone on the team except for my husband. Now, several years later–the Sons of Pitches are some of my favorite people and I love spending time with them–on and off the field.
5.) Get a dog. Not only are dogs man’s best friend–their owners can be pretty cool too. If you are looking to meet some genuinely nice people, grab your pooch (or borrow your friend’s pooch) and head to the local dog park. Dog owners love their dogs and they love talking about their dogs. So whether your four legged friend is a Bullmastiff or a Pekapoo, as long as they are friendly towards other animals, grab a frisbee and head to the park for some fun and friend making.
6.) Have a kid. Okay–having a child might not be the best tactic if your goal is simply to make friends–there are lots of other less painful, cheaper and less exhausting ways to make friends. However; if you already have kids, they can be a great way to connect with other fun parents and form lasting friendships. My oldest son is nearly 20 years old, but when he was just a little guy (like three years old) I attended a playgroup where I met my friend Amy who also had a little boy. Amy and I bonded over all of the things that moms of boys would bond over (bugs, dirt, toy cars, dinosaurs, emergency room visits etc.) Our friendship continued to develop over the years as our sons entered school, played sports, got drivers licenses, went on dates etc. Now, Amy and I live in separate states and yet she is still one of my closest friends and our relationship is one that I will always cherish.
7.) Carpool to work. Not only is carpooling economical and good for the environment–it can also help you to make friends. I have a friend who used to drive an hour to Denver every day for work. She was getting fed up with the headache of battling traffic everyday and the expense of constantly filling her tank with gas so she joined a carpool service. By sharing a ride with others, my friend has now made two new close friends that she enjoys hanging out with beyond just their carpool time.
8.) Steal friends from friends. Okay–I know that this was a BIG no-no back in fourth grade but we’re all adults now right? Besides, I look at this more as sharing than stealing since everyone involved remains friends. Here’s how it works–my friends are amazing people and as amazing people, they are connected to other amazing people. I have been blessed to meet many of my friends friends and thereby become friends with their friends myself. There’s no mean gossip or backstabbing going on–just new friendships being forged. We connect with others because our spirits are attracted to each other so it only makes sense that we would also be attracted to those whose spirits are are also attracted to those of our friends. Of course you’ll want to be careful to avoid leaving anyone out or causing hurt feelings, but there is no reason that you can’t also become friends with your friends friends.
9.) Volunteer. There are so many good causes out there that are in need of great volunteers. Find a cause that speaks to your heart and then commit to giving your time and talent to an organization that supports that cause. As you do so, you will meet other like-minded individuals who have the same passions as you. As the Executive Director for a nonprofit breast cancer support center, I have had the pleasure of watching some of our amazing volunteers form deep and lasting friendships with each other. They were drawn together by a mutual desire to make a positive difference, and through their commitment to a cause they have forged relationships built upon shared passions and a desire to serve.
10.) Connect with your Alumni Association. I live in a different state from where I attended college and yet, through my involvement with my college Alumni Association, I have been able to meet and form relationships with others in my area who graduated from my same university. It has been so fun to share stories of our days at good ol’ Fort Hays State University and I now have two friends that I didn’t know during our college days, but have become close to now as adults. I’ve experienced this same phenomenon with my sorority as well. Though my college sorority doesn’t have a local chapter where I live now, I’ve been able to connect with other Alpha Gamma Delta alumni members in my local area. We may not have attended college at the same school, but having a shared sorority sisterhood has helped us to forge fun and lasting friendships.
11.) Join a club. What are your hobbies? Do you like to sew, read, dance or cook? Chances are, if there is an activity that you enjoy–others enjoy it too and have likely started a club for it. What better way to make friends than to seek out others who share your same passions? If you don’t know of a club for your particular interest–start one! Run an ad in your local paper or on your community online message board announcing your club’s formation. You can also use the power of the internet to seek out clubs via interest websites such as Meetup.com
12.) Be a friend. Regardless of how many of these tips you use to make new friends, there is one tip that still supersedes them all–if you want a friend, be a friend. No amount of dog buying, club joining, carpooling or volunteering will help you if you aren’t friendly. People are drawn to happy, generous, optimistic people with shared interests. If you exude those qualities and treat others with kindness and respect–you’ll find yourself surrounded with fun new friends in no time.
True friendship is a priceless gift. Value it and you’ll see it grow into a treasure more precious than any amount of gold or silver.
“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves”