Making friends after college is hard. You go from living, eating, studying and partying 24/7 with people who are around the same age and in relatively the same life phase as you to getting your own place, making your own food, working all day with people in all different life phases, and watching Netflix alone at night. It’s a jarring transition, or at least it was for me. Moving to Charlotte and knowing basically no one was especially challenging. In college, forced cohabitation (what’s up, roommates), synchronized university schedules (we have lunch at the same time let’s be friends!) and a seemingly never-ending stream of social engagements (packed with peer pressure, of course) made it almost impossible not to make friends.
Life in the post-college real world is different. Everybody’s doing their own thing at different times and at their own pace. You have to put in some work to make friends now and adulthood brings with it its own set of challenges. Like, do I just ask you to be my friend? Do we need to go on a friend-date first to test the waters? Are we going to send 76 text messages back and forth first before finding an evening that actually fits both of our schedules? Is there a friendship contract of some sort? If you live in Ballantyne do I actually have to drive there or…? Is there a Tinder for friendship?
Here are some ways I settled into the city I finally call home and picked up some friends along the way.
(1) Infiltrate Twitter a clique
This might sound ridiculous but some of my strongest friendships here started as 140-character conversations, and I know I’m not alone in this experience. Not sure where to start? Get on Twitter, follow the #instabeerupCLT and #weloveCLT hashtags, follow people you think are interesting, chime in on conversations, show up to IRL (in real life) events and let the good times roll. Both the InstaBeerUp and WeLoveCLT crews meet up in person monthly. Don’t miss it. Boom, friends.
(2) Join a gym
Fitness culture is strong in Charlotte and each studio and gym seems to build its own unique subculture by fostering community among members with non-fitness activities. MADabolic, for example, hosts regular happy hours for members to mingle, which is a great way to get to know people. Personally, I started my Charlotte life as a regular at Y2 Yoga. At first I didn’t know anyone and I liked it that way, but eventually I started hanging out after class on Wine Wednesdays (informal drinking of wine outside the studio on Wednesdays, imagine that), showing up at parties and, yep, making friends. One of my life highlights was all my yoga friends throwing me a huge unexpected birthday party. Yogi crews roll deep and I’ve seen the same tight-knit crews form in the Crossfit, running, Flywheel and Zumba communities. I swear we get four birthday party invites a month for my boyfriend’s Crossfit friends. Workout, make friends, repeat.
(3) Two words: coffee. shops.
Holy crap Charlotte loves its coffee shops. While most people might be hunkered down over a laptop avoiding human interaction at all cost, others will be open to friendly conversation. Strike it up. Worried about interrupting someone? Central Coffee has little signs you can put on your table that indicate you’re down to share with a stranger. I love this. If all else fails, baristas are also really nice people who are usually down to chat.
(4) Get a dog.
No really, get a dog. I don’t have my own dog but my old roommate did and Wedgie the pitbull bassett hound (yep) was quite the human magnet. Dogs are an excellent excuse to go outside, hang out in parks and strike up conversations with strangers.
So go forth and make friends, fellow adults. It is possible.