How To Make Friends in Your 30s or Fail Miserably Trying

I wish it would be simple, like it was back in elementary school. Maybe not easy but, less complicated. No past, less baggage, less of what I ‘think’ I know now.

I would stand up in the front of the class, under the nurturing gaze of my teacher. Still nervous and uneasy, staring down at my shoes while they would say something like, “Good morning class. This is Jayme. She’s a new student all the way from New Jersey. Please make her feel welcome and help her get adjusted to our classroom. Jayme, your class buddy is Emily. She will help show you our routines. We are so happy to have you!”

I would sit next to Emily who would probably let me borrow her very well organized crayons. I would color quietly at first and let the morning routine unfold around me. As lunchtime and recess approached, Emily would shuffle me along reassuringly towards the jungle gym to introduce me to her other friends Sarah and Lindsey. They would warn me about the “Ashleys” (Recess anyone? Anyone) and we would begin to relax and giggle our way through a game of red light, green light.

In elementary school, my first day in a new place would be simple. There would be a formula to it, a play by play that could be rehearsed. Being the new kid, with hindsight and twenty plus years of friendship give and take later, I don’t expect it to be this uncomplicated.

See, I used to be a joiner.  I was involved in chorus, musicals, student council, dance, and soccer. You name it, I  I went to day camp then sleep-away camp for weeks away at a time. I went on teen tours and traveled the country without knowing a soul before doing it.  I was fearless and always ready to meet new people and make new friends.

Something happens when you get older though, or at least it has happened to me.  You meet your people, you join your clubs, and you get comfortable.  There’s that word again; comfortable.  The older I get, the less willing I am to join.  The less willing I am to put myself out there and show strangers my loudmouth, sometimes optimistic, but a lot of times pessimistic, sense of humor.  I find myself doubting my words even more, second-guessing the joke I told or the piece of advice I gave.

Why bring this up you might ask?  Well, I’ve realized that a lot of my trepidation in this big upcoming move is the fear of not fitting in.  Of meeting new people and being pushed aside, not allowed to “join.”  Not being able to make a connection with someone deeper than surface level.  Maybe it’s silly and I have no reason to worry, but there it still is, the gnawing feeling that I won’t fit in or the “Ashley’s” will still be there not allowing me to walk in the stroller group.  So, I’m writing this post in order to keep myself accountable, to follow a few different steps in my efforts to “join,” or meet new friends.  By posting, I put it out into the universe that I have to try. I can’t allow myself to hide and not put myself out there.

So, how am I going to try and make new friends in my thirties, in a new place, that I’ve never lived before? I’m not exactly sure but I’ve come up with a few different ideas that I’m going to try and see how it goes.

1.     Walk.  Make an effort to walk around the neighborhood, walk to get coffee, walk to do a few errands.  Hopefully, by getting out in my new neighborhood I will come across other people to strike up conversation with.
2.    Join a class.  Gym class with childcare, music class with Charlotte, mommy and me class whatever is available.  Force myself to be a joiner and bring the baby with me.
3.    Say hi.  It may sound a little Pleasantville of me but I’m determined to give it a try.  Say hello to people I pass, say hello to another mom at Target, say hello to the person in front of me at Starbucks.  I figure you never know who else might be craving human connection.
4.    Shop local.  As much as I love a long leisurely walk through the aisles of Target, I’m going to make it a point to shop and support local businesses. I’m hoping that if I find a few local shops that I love I will begin to find other people that also love them.  We might even find some common ground besides our shopping habits. I won’t give up my Target runs but add in some new local stores to the weekday lineup as well. 
5.    Put myself out there both on social media and in daily life.  I have found myself recently not sharing an Instagram post or a blog post or talking to someone more that I meet because of fear that I won’t be accepted or embarrassed by something I’ll say.  Comparison can so easily be the thief of joy and so can fear. So, I’m throwing it out the window.  I’ll continue to post what I want on instagram in hopes to connect with people through social media, maybe even in my new community.  I won’t be so concerned with the number of likes but rather the dialogue I can create around the post or other people’s posts.  I won’t shy away from a coffee invitation or a play date that comes my way.  I will say “yes.”  Even when I’d rather stay inside and scroll through Instagram stories.  I can’t be the only one.   

This was a long one, but something that has been on my mind since we’ve decided to pull the trigger on the big move.  There are no discounted TpT resources, no freebies at the end of this post, so if you’ve stayed with me until the end, know that I appreciate you so much.  I’m hoping that by sharing my fears in preparing for this move and then adjusting to a new city, I can find some other people who share my trepidation and experience.  Maybe we can create a little online cheering section!  Give each other virtual high-fives for becoming joiners when we didn’t feel initially comfortable to. 

So here’s to saying yes and being joiners. 

Thanks for stopping by!


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