Making friends can be hard, and when schools are closed down, it can be even harder. For many young adults, some of their key friendships are forged at school, and when the world is locked down, you won’t have as many opportunities to keep in touch unless you make a big effort.
For others, these years are difficult and don’t represent an opportunity to make a lot of friends. As much as the world has become a kinder place, there are still plenty of people who are struggling with loneliness, exclusion, bullying, and other traumatic things. We’ll drop the cliche that it does get better, and some people have more that they’ve got to push through than others who seem to have easy lives, but you don’t always know what someone is going through, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else is going through when you’re struggling yourself.
In any case, here are some tips that can help you make friends. If you feel too anxious to do some of these, it could be possible that you could benefit from speaking to a mental health professional about your anxiety and learning techniques and tools to deal with it. Anxiety is common among teenagers, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person to take steps to work on it. These tips aren’t very helpful if you feel like trying to take action on them is like going up against a brick wall, so sometimes sorting that out first can help.
Anyways, let’s get into it…
3. Be Yourself
Oh God, aren’t you sick of hearing this? People tell you that you’ve just got to be yourself and then everything else will fall into place. If it only it was that easy! This is just the first step. The reason to be yourself when you’re trying to make friends is because if you’re acting like someone else, the friends you make won’t know the real you, and you’ll always feel like you have to put on an act. If you are yourself, when you do make friends, they’ll like you for who you really are and you won’t have to put on a facade, you can just be yourself.
Being yourself won’t necessarily make it easier to make friends, it’ll just help ensure that you’re gaining true friendships, not surface-level superficial ones.
2. Audit Your Interests
What are your hobbies, what are you interested in? Make a list of some of your hobbies and interests, that’s a good starting point to try to meet people with similar hobbies and interests.
You can use sites like MeetUp to find people in your area who have similar interests, even if you don’t end up going to any meetups, you could still find friends on their forums. There’s nothing wrong with making some friends online, even if you don’t ever end up hanging out in person. Just practice good online safety, especially for younger people, and be responsible. With so many forums and communities based on different interests, this is a good way to practice making small talk with people, meeting new people, and so on. An internet friend is just as valid as someone you talk to in real life. Once you get older, you won’t see your IRL friends quite as often anyways.
When you’re in highschool, you kind of meld into a friend group but it’s not necessarily based on interests, having similar values, etc. As you get older, those traits become more common in finding friend groups. Regardless of which highschool year names you’re a part of, you can join various clubs to meet people, too.
Do you enjoy comedy and joking around? Riddles for teens might not win you friends, but they can be good ice breakers so maybe keep a few of those on deck, too.
1. Take A Chance and Don’t Give Up
At some point, you’ll have to break out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to someone, chat a bit, and see if a friendship grows or not. With so many people out there, if your first introduction doesn’t end up turning into a blossoming friendship, that’s totally fine!
Accept the reality that you’ll have to introduce yourself to multiple people before you meet some great friends, but once you do make a solid friend, they may have their own friend group that you can integrate into and meet even more new friends, who get along with someone that you get along with.
Understand that everyone’s different, and if you’re very critical of yourself or of other people, you’ll have a difficult time making friends. You won’t find a “perfect” friend, you’ll meet some interesting people and forge friendships, but sometimes people have trouble making friendships because their expectations are very high. It’s okay to ahve standards and you should never accept friends who treat you poorly, but everyone’s human and nobody is perfect so if you expect some ideal, knight in shining armor, perfect friend you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. You need friends who treat you with respect, who care about you, and who you enjoy talking to.
Check out these birthday ideas for teens, maybe you can invite a friend or two and welcome to bring other friends of theirs so you can meet new people on a day where everyone has to be nice to you!