Hey there- hope y’all are having a great week and hopefully enjoying some springlike weather. It’s been nice having a little preview of spring here in NC. However, I’m actually glad it’s going to cool back down so I can enjoy wearing my Sherpa pullovers some more before spring arrives to stay. Anyways, last week I shared some ways to make the most of Valentine’s Day when you’re single. One of my suggestions was to celebrate the non-romantic love in your life, including friendships. However, it can often be difficult to find and maintain solid, genuine friendships as a young adult. God has really been teaching me a lot about navigating the tricky landscape of post-college friendships over the years. So today I’m sharing some lessons and words of encouragement with y’all regarding what I’ve learned about making friends as a young adult.
Friendships change. It can be hard, but it’s okay.
I’ve been out of college for almost 12 years now. In those 12 years, I’ve lived in four different places and met a lot of people I’ve considered a friend at some point. And even though I’ve lived in the Raleigh/Durham area for over five years now, I’ve switched churches, church campuses, and small groups a few times. Basically, my primary social circle has been anything but consistent the past 12 years. For someone who is very much a planner and thrives on stability, this has been difficult at times.
However, when I think about the sheer number of people I’ve considered a friend over the past 12 years, it’s simply impossible to maintain close relationships or even any relationship at all with everyone. Part of the challenge of post-college friendships is everyone has different schedules. Many are in different seasons of life with respect to marriage and children. Geography presents another challenge. It’s harder to maintain a long-distance friendship. Event though social media and texting are decent options to stay connected, it doesn’t compare to having regular face-to-face time and doing life together. In addition, I have quite a few local friends who I used to see on a regular basis, but now only see periodically because we are part of different church communities or small groups.
If you find yourself in a similar situation to this, remember that it’s to be expected. And it’s okay, even if it’s hard in the moment. Remember that even through friendships change, God doesn’t. His love for you is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Just because a friendship has changed doesn’t mean you aren’t friends anymore.
When I find myself having FOMO because I saw Instagram pictures of a friend group I used to be closer with all hanging out together, I have to remind myself that just because our friendship has changed doesn’t mean we aren’t still friends. It’s easy for me to let doubts and insecurities creep in. I might question why I wasn’t invited, and whether they still even like me. However, I have to take those thoughts captive. Then when I have the opportunity to hang out and catch up with certain friends, it’s always a sweet reminder that even if we aren’t as close as we used to be, we’re still friends and still matter to one another!
I also have some friendships from previous chapters of my life that I still maintain. However, I don’t see these friends in person nearly as much as I used to. Yet, with effort and intentionality, I still consider them close friends. I text some of these friends multiple days a week, others not as much. But no matter how much time passes between talking or face-to-face visits, we can always pick back up where we left off.
If you’re trying to maintain friendships from previous seasons of life or social circles, remember that the door swings both ways. Rather than dwelling on why you weren’t invited to a particular social gathering, reach out to one of those friends. Tell her you miss her and would love to grab coffee, lunch, or dinner sometime soon.
Seek out friends who are genuine and authentic, not just friends who will look good in Instagram photos.
This is HUGE! In 2019, it’s soooo easy to scroll through your Instagram feed, and see groups of people who look like they’re having so much fun together. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with desiring to be part of a fun friend group.
However, remember that Instagram is a highlight reel and only tells part of the story. Being friends with people who have good Instagram photos with lots of likes is futile if said friends aren’t kind, authentic, and genuine. You want people you can be honest and vulnerable with, without fear they will judge you or use that information against you. In addition, you want friends who will cheer you on as you pursue your goals and dreams, and value community over competition.
Don’t be so focused on finding a husband that you neglect opportunities to make amazing girlfriends.
To be fully transparent, I honestly think this is partially why some of my friendships as a young adult haven’t been as solid as I would have liked. For much of my young adult years, I was so hyper-focused on checking out eligible Christian guys at social events. If a gathering didn’t have any guys I was interested in, I would consider it a bit of a bust. (Ironically, back in middle school I rolled my eyes at the girls who only wanted to talk about which boys were cute. My how things can change!)
Of course I made friends with some great girls. Yet because I fixated on what I didn’t have (a boyfriend/husband), I didn’t fully bloom where I was planted. I failed to invest more of myself into cultivating my friendships with other girls. God has been working on my heart a lot in this area recently. I can already tell a difference in how I’m able to more fully enjoy getting to be friends with some amazing women He’s placed in my life over the past six months!
Don’t blame yourself if a friendship doesn’t work out.
The reality is that not all friendships you pursue will work out. Sometimes there is a mutual growing apart, and other times there might be a personality conflict and y’all simply aren’t compatible as friends. Although you should treat everyone with kindness, dignity, and respect, you won’t necessarily be friends with everyone.
If a friendship that you had high hopes for doesn’t work out, it’s easy to blame yourself and think something is wrong with you. However, that is a straight up lie from Satan. While it’s important to humble yourself and be open to opportunities for self-improvement, a friendship not working out doesn’t automatically mean it’s your fault.
God will replace friendships that don’t work out with new friendships that are even better than you could ask or imagine.
It’s hard and sometimes downright painful when friendships don’t work out. But when God has shown me that when He closes the door on friendships that weren’t meant to be, that opens space for Him to bring new friendships in my life. These new friendships are not only better for me than the ones that didn’t work out, but better than I could ask or imagine!
It often requires a lot of trial and error.
I’m not going to sugarcoat that making friends as a young adult can be downright hard. You no longer have the close-knit built-in community of a college campus. It often requires a lot of trial and error. I have found this to be the case at multiple times in the past 12 years. Therefore, don’t be discouraged if you find that it’s the same for you.
Persevere, because it’s worth it when you DO find those quality friends.
However, when friendships don’t work out, you have to brush yourself off and keep trying to meet and build relationships with people. Satan wants you to think that you’re the problem so that you will isolate yourself. But God wants you to continue putting yourself out there despite past hurts and disappointments. And I promise, it’s worth it when you do find some quality friends. Furthermore, if you’ve lived in the same city for awhile and are still struggling to find a close-knit group of local friends, don’t give up. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve lived in the Raleigh/Durham area for five years now, but I’ve actually known some of my closest local friends for less than six months!
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” -Proverbs 27:17
Where do I meet friends as a young adult?
Now you might be wondering, “where do I even meet friends outside of work?” I wanted to end this post with a few practical suggestions for making friends as a young adult. This probably sounds cliche, but the best starting point is to examine your interests and values, and then brainstorm how and where you could meet like-minded people.
For instance, my faith is very important to me, so I look for churches and Bible studies with a lot of young adults. If you’re into playing sports, look into getting involved in some recreational sports leagues for adults. I have some friends who have met other friends through a kickball league in Durham. One of my friends is really into CrossFit. She will often hang out with her gym friends outside of workout time. Although I haven’t personally used it beyond creating an account a couple years ago, I’ve heard Meetup is a great way to meet others with common interests. Finally, volunteering with a nonprofit you are passionate about is another great way to meet like-minded people.
Thanks so much for reading, and I really hoped this encouraged y’all! What are some of your biggest tips and challenges for making friends as a young adult? I’d love to hear!