I just moved to a new city and I feel very isolated. How do I make friends?
For those of us who have lived in many places, we often think of moving cities as no big deal. We may have mastered the art of packing the perfect box. We may have set up the wifi in advance. We may have spent countless hours online, researching our new home, wondering whether they have any good secondhand bookshops. However, no matter how many times we have done it, there is no denying the fact that moving to a new place alone can be really unsettling. So, whatever the reason for your move, well done for leaning in to this choice. It’s brave. Make sure you keep sight of that.
As for the isolation, this can be a really horrible feeling. It can be easy to believe that everyone else in the town is together, having a wonderful time, and you haven’t received an invite to the party. Know that this is not the case. Sadly, in these times of extreme connection, lots of people feel more lonely than ever before. In recent research by the Campaign to End Loneliness, 45% of adults in England said that they felt occasionally, sometimes or often lonely. It’s as much of a pandemic as any other. Oh, and speaking of pandemics, that really hasn’t helped things either. All of this is just to say that, in feeling isolated, you’re not alone.
The case for making friends as an adult is not hopeless, not at all. But it can be a little scary. This is because the best way to make friends as an adult is to put yourself out there. And in doing that, you risk rejection. You should know, however, that rejection is unlikely. You are, after all, an interesting person with plenty to offer the world. So get out there. The most common way to make friends is at work. If you’re going to spend 80% of your time with people, you might as well befriend them. Talk to your co-workers. Listen to them. Ask questions. The wonderful Jo Cox said, “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.” Don’t be afraid; you will find your tribe.
If you, like me, are working from home right now, and spend more time talking to your pets and plants than actual people, you will need to make more of an effort. Can you meet people through your hobbies? Can you go and volunteer your time? Can you connect with people online? It’s not as simple as it was at school, when you became best friends with the person you sat next to in Maths, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. One of the scariest things about making friends in adulthood is the idea that you will somehow be found wanting. But look outwards. Being a friend is as much about supporting someone as being supported. Give love – thoughtful love, which does not compromise your boundaries – and just watch how it flies back to you. You’re never alone. I wish you luck on the journey ahead.
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