Last night, I was sitting in an Uber with two friends of mine on our way to a concert. We were talking about unimportant things, but we were laughing so hard that it actually hurt and I think the Uber driver got a little nervous. It made me think–these were the first post-college friends I had been able to do that with. Maybe they were just my first post-college friends, period. Full stop.
It is so sad that right at the moment we need friends most (read: right at the moment we’re cast out into the cold and lonely world), our friend-making opportunities simply dry up. What happens instead? Happy hours, work bake sales, and (in grad school at least), lots of talks with free luncheons. I don’t know when the bait-and-switch happens, but we suddenly all become people who ask things like, “What do you do?” and “What are you working on?” and “How’s ‘x’ project going?”
No one cares about what you do or what you’re working on or how ‘x’ project is going, and usually, they’re really bad at pretending they do. I mean, it’s hard for me to value someone’s work before I get to know them as people first. Not that your marketing campaign or dissertation or whatever isn’t cool, but like, I could just read your CV. Thanks.
Maybe it’s because we all become insecure? I get this odd feeling that everyone is playing a game and we all abide by these arcane rules that make literally no sense, but everyone is afraid of being the one to puncture the bubble.
I’m all for puncturing bubbles, which is exactly why I’m gifting you–for free!–with my top five rules for making friends after college. I feel pretty well-qualified to hand them out, since I have (as previously noted) made two whole post-college friends.
- Join some kind of club. It can be literally anything. A book club, pickup soccer, one of those weird geocaching groups that I still don’t understand what they do (look under rocks for stuff?). It doesn’t matter. Some kind of structured environment outside of work automatically begets conversations beyond work, which is a good thing.
- Do not start any conversation with “So, what do you do?” Just no. Lots of people work, and you don’t get a cookie for also working.
- Remember people’s names (Yeah, I know, but it’s important).
- Listen to good music. “Good” here just means music that you’re passionate about–I’m not trying to be hipster-elite or whatever. Almost everyone likes music of some sort, and connecting over music (or just your love of it), can spark bridges.
- Stay connected to yourself. This sounds super vague, but it isn’t. Like crime novels? Don’t stop reading them. Are you into new languages? Keep plowing through levels on Duolingo. As long as you don’t forget your best qualities, it makes it easier to detect other people with qualities that are complementary to yours–or for those people to find you.
Any other ideas? Is making friends after college impossible, or is that just me? Probs just me, I know.