(so sorry for the title…)
So, part of why I moved home to Houston was because I missed my family and friends here. While ultimately, I have many beloved friends from my time in the chilly northeast, that wasn’t always the case. Many days, when I finally would have a day off, I would find myself alone and without friends to necessarily look to to fill my time. This meant that (1) I had to find a way to be comfortable enjoying parts of life on my own that, in the past, may have felt uncomfortable doing solo and (2) finding ways to make friends and create my own social sphere. Sure, I had my undergraduate network and Penn Law crowd to lean on, but I would have to say that some of my best friends came from actively pursuing friendships and putting myself out there. I frequently am asked how I know so-and-so and my answer is just “around” or something of the sort, which oftentimes results in a look of shock. So, dear friends, I decided to put together a list of ways to not only be happy when you don’t have those friendships developed yet and want to enjoy a day outside of the house as well as unconventional ways that I have made friends outside of the work/school environment. For many of you, this may seem like common sense, but for us younger folk, some of this can be a challenge to do solo. You can do it!
Solo Activities and Adventures
- Market Yourself. Always wanted to learn to cook? Already know but want to try that new recipe you found and have been putting off? Find a fun recipe that probably requires going to a specialty market and go on an adventure! There are so many amazing middle eastern/Asian/Italian/etc. markets out there waiting to be explored! Even if you are not cooking, heading out and perusing the aisles makes for a great afternoon and if you’re one of those millennial instagrammers I’ve heard so much about, it can make for some great eye candy.
- Lose Yourself. At least for a couple of hours! Lose yourself and immerse your mind into the fabulous world of the cinema! Can’t find someone to see that movie you’ve been wanting to see? Who the eff cares. Go see it! I promise, after you try it once, you’ll never be scared to do it again. I especially love doing a matinee at smaller, independent theaters. In Boston, I love the Coolidge Corner Theater, the Philadelphia Film Society Roxy Theater in Philly, and the River Oaks Theater in Houston. These wonderful places are made for those who love the movies and can allow you to get out of the house. Yes, you can Netflix at home, but believe me, it’s not the same when you need a mental break.
- Send Yourself Flowers. Or at least buy yourself some. Having something to add life to your home never ever hurts. I personally love going to Trader Joes and taking a stab at making flower arrangements.
- Think it Out. Journal! Don’t know how? Just start writing. Best thing about it is, you can journal from anywhere. Home, coffee shop, subway.. great way to get out of the house and have some alone time! When I was particularly bored, I purchased this book which provides great writing prompts. Highly recommended!
- Stretch it Out. The best solo yet surrounded by other people activity there is. Simply put. If you’re nervous about trying yoga, I highly recommend places like Black Swan in Texas, which focus on community atmospheres.
- Get Lost. Go on a day trip on your own! In the city, in the country, wherever! By foot, by car, go on your own. You’ll see more than you could ever imagine!
- Dine like You’ve Never Dined Before. Never try a place because you heard it’s impossible to get reservations or the line is too long? Well, if it’s just you, I bet you you can get that solo seat at the bar and dine like royalty.
So You’re Sick of Yourself and Ready to “See Other People”:
- Be an Alcoholic. Just kidding. Go to your local bar on your own. Go just at happy hour or at a slower time of day where it’s quiet enough to talk but there will likely be others sitting at the bar. Nurse a drink. Keep your ears open and if there’s a break in the conversation or you hear something of interest, don’t be scared to chip in. A “pardon my interruption, I’m bored” mind if I join, surprisingly works. Just don’t say it in a creepy way. I literally have an entire friends group from doing this. Also, don’t be scared of chipping in in group conversations. If you get the vibe you’re not wanted, no worries. Back off. But, most of the time, people are more open than you would think. Just don’t be creepy!
- Talk too much. This is a kill two birds with one stone scenario. For those who have always wanted to work on their foreign language skills, language exchanges like Conversation Exchange or Language Exchange Community offer a great way to meet someone new AND to improve your language skills. Here’s how it generally works: You sign up online and indicate what interests you have, what languages you speak, your availability, and your proficiency level. Then, most sites will help you match with someone with similar interests and proficiency level – but in the language you are trying to learn. You then meet up, you know you have something in common, and you talk about it! Half in your language, half in his or hers. Boom! New friend opportunity and learning!
- Be a Book Worm. Join a book club. Just do it.
- Be a Dog. Have a pup? Hit up your local dog park. Talk to someone! Human someone I mean. It’s a great way to have conversation, even if it ends at that.
- Alumni Associations. Become involved with your local chapter of your alumni association. It’s a great resume booster, great way to meet people you have something in common with, and surely will keep you busy. No association in your area? Contact your alma matter and see if you can start a chapter!
- Expand Your Network. Sure, most of us dread networking events. A lot of us bring a “wing man” so we don’t have to suffer through them alone. Don’t! Go on your own! If you’re not looking to change a job immediately, see if you have anything in common with anyone there. Whether it be a mentor or a new friend, no time like when you’re not looking for help to make connections and work on these relationships.
- Add Some Sporty Spice to Your Life. Social Sports Leagues are a great way to meet people that are looking to make friends as well. Leagues like Better Off Bowling and ClubWaka are chalk-full of others who are ready to drink some beer and “play” sports. Teams are always looking for “free agents” and it’s a great way to get out of the house and have a weekly event to look forward to.
Some rules when it comes to trying to make new friends:
- Never bond over negativity .I fall into this trap way too often. I’m at a party or event, not thrilled to be there and just want someone else to talk to and we end up bonding by either making fun of others or complaining about our surroundings. This is not making friends, it’s making negative energy. It will not ultimately lift your spirits and it certainly will not make for a healthy, long lasting relationship.
- Show up.
- Lose that Insecurity. I know I’m naturally an extroverted person. That being said, I get nervous doing this stuff too. But, when it comes to turning strangers into friends, the worst that can happen is you fail. You know what that means? They’re still strangers.
- Follow Through. Just like with dating. Meet someone you like? Don’t be scared to say, “hey, it was great meeting you. Would it be alright if we go on a “friend date”” sometime?” And then call them! Make concrete plans. Brunch, meet at a dog park, whatever!
- Don’t Settle. Most importantly, you know your worth. You know that even if you can’t find close friends, you can be happy on your own. If that isn’t true, work on this. If it is, don’t spend all of your time with “new friends” just because you finally met new people. If they’re not meant to be your friends, don’t force the situation.
I hope this list can help some of you get started! The point is, if you’re feeling down about being alone, there are solid, concrete steps you can take to better your situation. It is OKAY to enjoy being alone. It is also OKAY if you hate it. Either way, you.can.do.it.