The hunt for a tribe: adult edition
Updated: Nov 4, 2021
As a child, the path to forging friendships seemed seamless - whether it was sitting next to each other in class, living in the same compound, or being line buddies - we rarely had trouble going from classmates to play mates. In adolescence, we became friends through familiarity, sharing a quick joke, and/or advice, which quickly took us from strangers to buddies. In college, it may have started with the person sitting next to you during orientation, your roommate/floor mates, or anyone from social clubs, etc. which allowed for bondage to quickly form; making friends in college was easier as well since everyone was searching for the same thing especially during those first few weeks navigating the new home. These initial moments took us from strangers, to besties/close friends without realizing. Depending on the phase, these moments were also coupled with sharing music, homework, staying up late to indulge in gossip, crushes, latest fads, and talks about being godparents to each other's future kids.
It may have all seemed like a forever friendship, but with time, people can drift apart and that is super normal. I was warned about the drift in college, however, I felt the foundation of most of my friendships were rooted in similarities, and a need for longevity since we shared secrets. Riiiiiiight! Nevertheless, that's the beauty about adulthood: you are constantly evolving and so are your values.
What seemed like the easiest to accomplish based on surroundings is no different in adulthood. The only difference is our awareness of starting anew - which can possibly seem awkward or forced. Upon accepting the notion that it can come across as such, you set part of yourself free and allow yourself to take the risk. The hunt for friendship to some may seem unnatural, but it is only due to societal norms. There is nothing wrong with being hyper aware of your lack of a circle of friends or solid buddies. Self-awareness is the stepping stone to implementing change.
For me, I have been fortunate enough to genuinely meet people Post College who have become official homies and potential bridesmaids. Some I have met by happenstance, while others I made the effort as I wanted to get out there to connect, network, and meet dope people. Remember, energy is key!
You learn a lot about yourself in these moments as well. Personally, I have found that I enjoy exploring solo and evidently met most of the coolest people I know on my solo escapades. For instance, I have made friends through agony at the airport or on layovers, at my local mosque, on my way to a party, at concerts, on the train, at networking events, through other friends to name a few. I noticed the spark all started with shared interests, struggles, or past experiences which led to exchanging contacts (usually, social media handles). Sometimes I am lucky enough where we are both looking to expand our friend groups. Upon meeting, I usually like to keep in touch by sharing an article, outfits, playlists, interactive classes, book excerpts, recipes etc.- basically anything that we vibed on. Evidently, it is also easier keeping in touch via social media in recent years anyways, especially with my friends abroad. If they are local, I try to plan linkups within the first month of meeting, if possible. Anything beyond that turns into a planning nightmare and if I feel I am overexerting, then I take a step back. Self-love is key!
The next section will focus on the platforms that worked for me, how you can use them to accomplish your goal and sample conversation starters in bullets.
MeetUp/FaceBook Groups: There is a community out there for anything, literally anything you are looking for! Whether it is a new activity you are looking to try or an old hobby you want to brush up, you will find like minded folks that meet regularly and on a local basis as well. MeetUp, was created for the sole purpose of connecting, so that alleviates the forcefulness and awkwardness a tad bit. Some events are free and some you’d have to pay for or register in advance. I have used this for networking events, finding local book clubs and also for interviewing. You really just have to show up!
Length of time the person has been in the group
Have they traveled and used MeetUp/Facebook groups elsewhere
GroupMe: In the event you are lucky enough and happen to find yourself in a GroupMe that is all encompassing of all 50 states and relevant to your field of work, extend yourself to the linkups that happen. You are bound to learn and network. These groups are super useful for referrals of all kinds and knowledge sharing.
How did you hear about this group?
Are there any similar groups that you recommend?
Couchsurfing: Trying to meet tourists instead, this app is perfect to meet with tourists coming to your area. You can set an alert and spend the day showing off your awesome city. As this is a cultural exchange, they usually return the favor in their city if you end up visiting their city, or teaching you something about their culture.
Talk about staples and ask about such from their native land
What's one thing they have heard about your city?
Concerts/Parades/Festivals: As I mentioned, I enjoy solo expeditions and attending concerts is one of those expeditions. I find going to concerts solo very liberating and enjoy my company. Friends are made in these instances while waiting in line, or standing side by side while an artist is performing; these usually start with a smile followed by a question about the artist or if they are alone as well, in that case, sentiments are usually shared regarding the need to get out/not wait on others.
Did (whoever is on the line up) perform yet? P.S. if you are anything like me, you are usually late...
Who are you most excited to see?
Are you also here by yourself?
DM-ing people: Now this I have yet to try, however, I have heard it worked for many people. If you want to befriend someone based on their energy, comments, content, captions, tell them; if they ignore you, then that's someone you would not want to connect with either way. If all goes well, then awesome! Point is, you will not know unless you give it a shot!
Hey, I noticed you also relocated to NY from Boston. Are you missing home as well? We should meet up in person, if you're up for it.
Nah, we need to be friends! I also share the same values/sentiments on XXX
I am trying to visit Greenland, are you free to answer any questions? (Then put it out there that you want to be friends)
Religious setting/groups: This is my personal favorite. As a Muslim woman, I am aware I am on the religion of my friends and this is why I make the effort to meet as many Muslim women - young Black Muslim women at that. Luckily, finding the right community in NY has helped bring this goal to fruition. I have found myself in safe spaces with the likes that I have met. I commend you try various places of worship within your faith until you find one that not only aligns with your values but also has your desired age group present. I highly recommend attending other non-service related events hosted by the newly found faith based institution as well.
How often do you come here?
What sorts of programs are offered? (Though you may have already checked, you can still ask as there may be other events that are not posted online)
Want to grab tea after this or sometime after?
Bumble BFF: Yes, that’s right! Bumble is no longer just a dating app. Whether you’re looking for likeminded entrepreneurs for accountability purposes, new friends for tea, cat friends, plant buds etc. it’s the perfect place to start!
Utilizing the conversation openers offered when matched with a potential bff has been really great for me as well.
Lastly, trying different activities on your bucket list has the potential of yielding great results. Pre Covid, I attended a sewing class that I found online and ended up making it routine. Through that class, I even got the opportunity to participate in a photo-shoot with one of the attendees who was also a designer. Most recently, I bought a bike and joined a local bike club that I cannot stop raving about. I find myself meeting new people and connecting with riders who are also struggling to bike up those steep one-of-a-kind NYC hills.
As you grow, your values will change and therefore your friendships will most certainly evolve. Do not victimize yourself by keeping yourself constrained to think it is impossible to create or find your new tribe. Sometimes, distance will cause friction between friendships that were once solid. Bear in mind, it is normal to have different groups of friends as well - college friends, friends of the same faith, mommy friends (where you can share your endless baby photos), biking friends, book clubs etc. - which is actually even better if you ask me. It's more expansive and communal and you get to share/learn about the common niche that binds you all.
Putting yourself out there starts the real work in believing in your capabilities and showing yourself love; after all, most of adulting is trying to revive the youthful courageous persona we once had, all while unlearning unhealthy habits we coined as the norm.
It's now time for you to be honest with where you are and get out there; just so you know, there are a ton of folks waiting to connect with you! Go on. Bet on your capabilities!