10 non-awkward ways to make friends as a 20-something

Being in your 20s is hard, but also kind of great. Maybe you graduated college with all your buds. Or you finally got a job after all those days spent on Google searching “how do I sound like I know what I’m doing on my resumé.” Maybe you’re even living on your own. Perhaps you moved across the country and started fresh in a new city. You’re finally at the stage where you can do whatever you want! But then it hits you like that quintessential record scratch in a ’90s teen movie – “Wait a second. How the heck do I make friends as 20-something?”

Think about it. You’re no longer able to walk into a common room within the forced socialization zones that are dorm buildings and say, “Hi, I’m [insert name here]. Who wants to walk to class with me?” Hello! You’re not even in class anymore, so forget meeting people there! Sitting with humans you met during orientation at the dining hall? You’re making your own dinners alone now! So, what are you supposed to do in order to avoid becoming an anti-social hermit by the age of 30? Here’s what you can do to save yourself from loneliness:

1. Browse the World Wide Web.

We’re not talking about putting an ad on Craigslist that reads, “Single 22-year-old woman looking for comforting friend.” We don’t suggest you do that. We’re talking about using Facebook and college resources to track down alumni in your new locale. Perhaps you have a college alumni page for all those former students living in New York, or L.A., or Springfield, Iowa. Post an introduction and say you’re willing to meet up for coffee, or maybe drinks after work. Plus, because you all went to the same school, you automatically have something to talk about. They’ll most likely be able to tell you where all the hot spots are in your new city, so you can get on the “cool track.”

2. Hang out at the water cooler.

So, you got a new job and so far you like what you’re doing. The people around the office seem pretty chill, so why not strike up a conversation? This requires a bit of courage if you’re usually not the type to initiate. But, if you’re all working at the same place, you probably have a lot in common and a lot to talk about. If you’re put on a team, get close with your teammates. Go to Karaoke or something – office people do Karaoke, right? Or whatever you all like to do, do it together. Employee bonding is pretty special and can make you feel 100% more confident in going to work in the morning.

3. Be a nosy roommate.

Not nosey nosey, but nosey enough that you make friends with the people you live with. Maybe spend some extra time in the kitchen or the living room where you run into them more often. Chit-chat about your days while making dinner. You may have met some of your best friends at college just by being selected at random to live with them. Now that you’re a 20-something and most likely able to choose, or at least talk to, your roommate before moving in, you could probably gauge whether or not you guys are going to get along. So get along and be friends!

4. Be a nosy neighbor, too.

Whether you live in an apartment building or a house, you definitely have neighbors – that is, unless you decide to pull a Walden and spend your 20s in reflection. To each their own. But if you do live next to someone, bring over a pie or just knock on the door to say hello! Invite them over for a glass of wine or a beer on the porch. Becoming part of your little community can make you feel like you belong in your new environment. It’s never a bad thing to be the “nice neighbor.”

5. Find your new favorite coffee shop.

Of course we would all love to find romance/be discovered by a casting agent while we leisurely sip our latte and read an antique copy of a Walt Whitman novel. But, let’s start with striking up casual conversation with someone who happens to have the same order or be reading the same magazine you picked up last week.

6. Join a religious congregation.

If you practice a religion, joining a local congregation may be a great source of new friends and activities. You’re automatically connected to your fellow congregation members by faith, and most likely, will have a lot to talk about regarding your beliefs. Bop around to different places of worship each week to find one that suits you and then begin shaking hands of the existing members. Not to mention, if you’re used to practicing religion, this piece of advice is also good for the soul.

7. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!

You don’t have to volunteer your life away, but pick a few good causes that you’re passionate about. Find out how to volunteer for organizations pertinent to those passions. Maybe you hang out at your local animal shelter every Sunday and start to befriend the other volunteers or the pet lovers who come to hang out with the animals on their days off. Or volunteer at the local homeless shelter and befriend the people there while helping others get on their feet. There are so many organizations that need volunteers, and not only are you meeting new people with the same interests, but you’re also doing good for your community.

8. Become a gym rat…or poodle.

Keep up with a solid gym schedule and chances are you’ll see the same people every time you go. Start a conversation with the girl lifting weights next to you or the fun looking BFFs who are in your yoga class. Once again, you all obviously like staying in shape and therefore have something in common. Make lunch or coffee plans after Pilates or spin and badda-bing, badda-boom – you’ve got friends! Note: Make sure you’re not trying to converse with someone while they have their headphones in. They don’t want to talk and you’re making yourself look like a fool.

9. Download an app!

Hey Vina is one way to make a friend — it’s like Tinder but just for friendships between women.

10. Graduate school?

You also can decide that you’re just not done with the academic track and want to continue chasing degrees. More power to you! Graduate class discussions can lead you to eye-opening new insights. You may be interested in hearing more about what that one kid who sits in the corner has to say. Catch up with them after class and ask him or her to go into more detail over a burger and beer.

Go forth and make yourself some BFFs! Of course you’ll always have your college and high school buddies to come back to, but there’s always room for more friend love in your life. Have fun and don’t be afraid to start a conversation. Good luck!

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