I’m asking for advice on making new friends at this age. I’m 22 and have no childhood or high school friends left. Whether it be from moving, or me losing friends due to my social anxiety, all my close friends are gone. I have my boyfriend who I’ve known for years, and he’s my world. However without a female support team behind me I’ve been feeling really lost. I’ve tried rekindling old friendships but it never sticks. Believe it or not, I’m a very social person, but because of situations from my past I have developed social anxiety, and it’s very difficult for me to allow people to break through. What advice would you have for me?
Thanks so much for your email and for being so willing to open up to me! I would love to help you with this.
Just so you know, it’s very normal to go through this in your twenties. We grow up always having friends around us — we literally don’t have to try, they’re all right there surrounding us in elementary school all the way through college. Once you’re out in the real world, you realize just how much effort it takes to not only make new friends but to maintain strong relationships as well. So the first thing you need to tell yourself is that this is totally normal and there is NOTHING wrong with you.
I think the key to building new friendships and strengthening current ones all starts with having some self-confidence. This is why it’s important that you don’t put yourself down or tell yourself there’s something wrong with you just because you’re looking to build new relationships. Instead, you should praise yourself for making that a priority and putting in the effort to do so! Getting out of your comfort zone like this requires a strong sense of self, so be sure you’re doing everything you can to be your own cheerleader first. Know that you are an amazing person that anyone would be lucky to be friends with!
Next is actually taking action. It’s important to really make an effort even though it may feel strange at first. For example, maybe you go to a spin class every week and notice someone who also attends every week. It may not feel natural to go up and start talking to her or to make plans with a stranger, but you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and give it a try. What’s the worst that happens? If she thinks you’re weird then, honestly, she’s probably a b*tch and you wouldn’t want to be friends with her anyway ;). Same goes for following up with new friends, texting them and making set plans to hang out. Don’t ever worry that you’re making too much of an effort or being too forward — this is what it takes to create and maintain friendships as an adult.
Thanks and good luck!