I’m trying to make new friends. I’ve lived in the area a while and I know a good number of people (some from school, others through friends of friends) but I’m starting to feel boxed in. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, but I think it’s important to continue to grow. Forming new relationships is an ideal way for an introvert like myself to push comfort zones, so I’m trying out a few things to widen my circle and add a little new blood to the mix of wonderful people I already spend my time with.
A few months ago I wrote about some strategies I intended to put to the test. It’s probably time I updated you on how that’s going.
I had a blast playing Bocce with one of my girl friends last summer. It was just the two of us and so we really made an effort to chat with other people and mingle. This summer I was talked into playing a season of kickball. And while I’m trying to be more of a “Yes!” girl, I probably should have passed on this opportunity. For one thing, it coincided with my move and a work trip so I was entirely stressed out and having panic attacks during the first couple of weeks. I even had to leave one game entirely, just before it started. But I also learned something valuable from my experience last summer that I should have taken into account: two girls together are approachable, three or more becomes an impenetrable clique. Because I was asked to play with four of my other girl friends (friends whom I like very much) there was no incentive to mix with other teams. So while I had a good time, this really wasn’t an ideal opportunity to meet people. Next time I do this, I’ll try it in a smaller group.
I signed up for an art class last winter and pretty much immediately had to cancel it. I got a refund which was fine, but I was sad to miss the opportunity to participate and meet some new people. Ultimately it was just poor timing on my part. Since I had only just started my new job, my finances were in a bit of a shambles. Had I gone through with the class I’m sure I would have had a great time, but in the moment I really didn’t feel that I was able to spend the money. That all said, I’m officially registered for a sewing class this fall! The county community centers each offer a different art class and the one near me has what they call a “Social Sewing Club.” It’s actually encouraged that you mingle while you learn to hem your own pants! I’m doing this solo, without any of my usual girl squad, so it’s going to be challenging, but also very exciting. Also I’ve always liked the idea of making my own Halloween costumes from scratch. Maybe this will help!
This is an opportunity I’m still working on. Turns out there’s a giant waiting list to help out at some of the more well known places in the city. Which is great, but also means I need to look harder to find a regular gig. I’m also not as comfortable working with kids and the elderly which knocks off a few opportunities. But I’ve put in an application to work as a volunteer at one of the Smithsonian museums. Fingers crossed I’ll at least get an interview because working there would be a dream come true. I love history and while most District residents loathe tourist season, I actually really enjoy showing people around and telling them all the local secrets. Plus, this would be an opportunity to teach some people about basic civics and history and I really can’t pass that up. No word back yet, but once the high season finishes and the interns leave I’m sure they will be looking for new volunteers.
I’ve also come up with some ideas that weren’t on my original list and I’m pretty excited about them.
After the spat I had with my friend the other day, I felt invigorated by the idea of doing something completely on my own, outside of my regular group of friends. I just needed something fresh and a little bit distant from the drama. So I signed up for a book club on Meet Up. I’m a little nervous about it because it’s less structured than a class and I am still an introvert at heart, but the group maximum is eight people and I think I should be able to manage that. I tend to do well in small groups and books are something I can genuinely talk about for hours. It would be nice to meet some people who read as obsessively as I do! It doesn’t meet until the middle of next month so I have yet to see how that goes, but I’m optimistic.
College Football Season:
This wasn’t on my original list because I was a bit passive about it last year, but if there’s one thing that brings people together it’s cheering for their favorite sports teams. I never grew up as a sports fan and my university didn’t even have a football team let alone a Big Ten one, but last year I co-opted my parents’ alma mater and decided to cheer for Penn State. There are multiple bars around the metro area that “sponsor” different teams during football season; Penn State has at least three. I plan to make myself a regular visitor at the one closest to my house. For one, it would allow me to actually watch the game (I don’t have the Big Ten network on cable), but I’m also likely to see some of the same people week to week. It might help me make new friends who share my interest. I am a little nervous about this, but I recently did a bit of a trial run at my apartment’s summer mixer. I didn’t know anyone, but put myself out there and ended up having a blast. So I can definitely try that again and if it doesn’t work out, then I still have the game to watch. Nothing to lose, right?
Overall I think I’m doing well at this. I know things haven’t gone exactly to plan, but I’m really pushing myself out of my comfort zone and diving into things, especially on my own. I love my friends and I don’t plan to neglect them or swap them out for an entirely new squad, but I also feel like this is something I have to do. I don’t want to become complacent about my life or get too comfortable when I could be growing and challenging myself.