As I began my master’s degree program last year, I felt really old. I was turning 30 and many of the people entering the program were just out of undergrad, at that awesome age of 22, where nobody tells you how hard it is to make friends after college.
Well hear me now all of you just-about-to-graduate-college folks, it is extremely difficult to make friends after college. In college you were in a pool of potential friendships, you had neighbors in your dorms to hang out with, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters. You were all in the same place in life with similar interests, and life was pretty good for most of us.
Then graduation, job and real world happens. All of a sudden you work different schedules from your friends, move away, or start families. All of these life situations will make it hard to make friends, especially the moving away or starting a family. I graduated college with a toddler, and the lives of my friends did not match my own married life. However as I follow those old friends on social media, I am seeing now that they are in similar spaces, we just didn’t reach them at the same time.
Now so far this whole post has seemed like a downer. I’m not solely the bearer of bad news, I am also hear to tell you that while it is hard, it isn’t impossible. I have also moved from MD to TN to AZ to MO and back to TN, and I have had friends in each location. My message is that it might be time to reevaluate the word friend and what it means to you.
- Quality over Quantity. – As I began a new life as a wife and mother in 2006 my need for a wide circle of friends gradually diminished. It is OK not to have a huge circle of friends, many of us thrive on having a small group of friends. It is easier to maintain a few close friendships when you have a family that takes precedence in your time. Make sure those friendships that you do maintain are uplifting and spiritually nourishing.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. As I said before, in college it was easy to meet people and make friends, but out in the real world it might be really difficult for you, especially if you are not accustomed to trying new things. If a local church has a young adult group, go try it out. As many of my acquaintances are church workers, sometimes we need to look for groups outside of the churches in which we work for friendships. My dear friend J is also a youth director and put herself in the very uncomfortable position of attending a young adult Bible Study at a larger church in the city where she works. She was new to the area and her only friends were those of us in the master’s degree program, most of whom were not close enough to maintain face to face friendships. Since joining the group she participates in a weekly bible study, trivia night and has numerous opportunities to just hang out with new friends.
- Patience is a virtue. OK I know that line is pretty trite, but it really is true. I lived in St Louis for almost 9 months before having a real friend. That’s a long time to hang out with your two year old, but it was worth it. She is still what I consider a great friend, even though we have both moved away, and I will always value my time with her. I lived in my current town for a full year before being invited to do something with people my age, but those friendships were worth the wait.
- Work hard at maintaining lasting friendships. I’m sure many of you have experienced the ending of a friendship. Maybe it was sudden, or maybe it just gradually faded away and two people grew apart. However I’m sure we can all identify friendships worth maintaining. My oldest friend, going on almost 18 years of friendship now, is extremely important to me. I make sure to visit once every few years, and he makes sure to call, or message me frequently. We live very different lives, but when two people know the value of real friendship they both need to work at maintaining that relationship.
The reality is that we are created to be in community with one another, and there are some growing pains associated with the transition from college to the big scary world of adulthood. Find solace in this, God created you to be in community so go and find it, you might be surprised who God sends your way!