Moving to a new place is not easy, and it’s harder when you don’t know anyone. When I was moving from Texas to the Bay Area I had maybe one friend here.
I recall a conversation before moving:
Texas Friend: You’re moving to California?
Texas Friend: Do you have family there?
Texas Friend: Do you know anyone out there?
Me: Uhm. No.
Texas Friend: Won’t you miss the people in Texas?!… You’re brave.
Did she mean to say brave… or naïve?
I moved to California for a job. I was nervous, but mostly excited. I figured… I was a fairly normal person with a few awkward tendencies and a sense of humor. Things would work out, right? I’d make friends easy… right?
These are the 5 Stages of what it’s like to find your tribe of friends in the Bay Area.
According to my experience. 😉 I hope this helps my girls that are new to the area!
Stage 1: Netflix & Chill (literally, and by yourself.)
For the first month I moved to the Bay Area, I wasn’t really bothered by being alone. My time was taken up with unpacking and binge watching Netflix shows. At times I would feel kind of lonely, but I had a lot going on so it wasn’t a big deal.
Eventually, I made, like one or two friends that I would hang out with regularly. It was fun, but how many times are you going to get Chipotle with the same people in one week? Can you say desperate? And also- are these people going to be my people? I still needed to branch out!
Keep in mind that you’re not going to make new friends watching Netflix shows. Just sayin’…
Stage 2: Meeting a lot of strange people before finding the ones you jive with
After a few months went by, I started getting restless. Facebook showed me photos of old friends hanging out, and it made me feel a little bit lame and kind of homesick. I wanted to find my peeps! My boxes were unpacked, the Netflix shows were getting perpetually worse… it was time to be more social.
It’s important to note that most people are generally pretty solid in their already established groups, so you need to give them a reason to include you. That being said, the first people you meet are not necessarily going to be your favorite, but you live and you learn.
Example: One time I went to a Travel Lovers Meet Up. I was super excited to meet people who loved to travel. At the Meet Up, I was handed multiple business cards with people’s travel blogs / start- ups on it, and came out with no friends. With a pocket full of business cards from start-ups, I knew I had just experienced true San Francisco culture. A lot of “networking.”
So here are some tips for Stage 2:
You have to be okay with doing things on your own. If you’re looking to meet new people and you do things with people you already know… you’re less apt to talk to new people. Just how it is. The worst that’s going to happen is you’re going to twiddle your thumbs in the corner and pretend to text your homies in the Central Time Zone. True story. The key is to get involved in more social settings. For instance, if you like outdoor sports, food, or playing to your hipster side… you’re in luck, the Bay Area is great for that. I’ve met so many more people through camping and rock climbing than I have sitting at home. Who would have thought? 😛
Another word of advice, be safe when you hang out with randoms. Do your homework (stalking) and make sure they seem like safe individuals. Has to be said!
Stage 3: Doing things you don’t necessarily want to do.
A girl from the Travel Meet-Up group ended up asking me over for a potluck. I wasn’t feeling it, so I declined. She never invited me anywhere again. End of story.
On the flip side, I went camping with people I didn’t really know… and it was one of my first few times camping. On the first night, I had a minor breakdown in the safety of my tent. It went something like:
I hate camping.
Must I have to go pee in the night?
I’m so cold out here.
….And various other things.
But by the end of the weekend, I decided that I LOVE camping. Go figure.
Like in relationships, if you want to make friends, you have to do things that aren’t your fave, like watch sports (me.) Gotta take yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes. If you restrict yourself to the things only you love doing, you’ll have a hard time establishing real friendships.
The way I see it is, if you’re sitting here with 0 friends, (I’m sorry) but you can’t call the shots. I get it, who wants to go wine tasting with a rando? Or something of the like. But suck it up! Put on a good attitude and try something you normally don’t do. Maybe you’ll make a new friend! Maybe you’ll end up liking the activity. If you hate it, you don’t have to do it again, but at least you tried.
A word of advice: if you perpetually reject invitations, people stop inviting you. See travel meet up story above.
Stage 4: Meeting friends of friends.
Your new friends have decided that you aren’t a psychopath, and they’d like to include you in on other social gatherings. Don’t mess this up! Be friendly and go. Go outside of our comfort zone and talk to people you don’t know. Those people might even be in Stage 2 and looking for their tribe. The chances are, if you really like your new friends, their friends are will probably be pretty cool people as well.
And then if you think the friends of friends are cool, don’t wait for invitations, make plans!
Stage 5: Finding people that are the same type of weird.
You start meeting people that share your interests. They don’t give you crap when you take photos of flowers on hikes. (My kind of people) and they want to do involved activities like wine tasting with you. Awesome.
Don’t let the fact that you don’t know any one prevent you from moving to a different place and pursuing new opportunities. Or don’t think it’s ever impossible for you to make new friends in the first place. It’s not easy and you’ll feel homesick sometimes. Find solace in the fact that you’re growing and opening yourself up to new experiences that will enrich you. Also, no matter how socially awkward you think you are – you’re not that strange, I promise. (Because we’re all strange.) Good luck!!