This post is all about How To Make Friends In Your 20s.
I struggled to make friends for the vast majority of my twenties.
I never really felt like anyone I knew was going through the same not-having-many-friends thing as I was, so when I would be vulnerable enough to open up about it, I felt like most people didn’t understand and/or couldn’t help me feel better about it.
And that’s okay. But it meant I felt really alone and kind of ashamed about not having many friends for many years.
And that’s why I’m writing this post. Because the only people who can really relate to feeling like you don’t have many friends are the people who have actually been there themselves.
So, if you are one of those people who feels like they don’t have many friends right now, this post is for you.
My goal with this post is to share with you some mindset shifts that ultimately changed my perspective on making new friends, which in turn made it so much easier for me to do so.
How To Actually Make Friends In Your 20s
My Friendship Background
Before we get started, here’s a bit about me and my friendships throughout my twenties for some context.
I’ve always had a handful of best friends, but they’ve never lived near me.
After college, I moved away from my hometown in Virginia to North Carolina.
At that time, a few of my best friends from high school either stayed in Virginia or moved much farther south. My best friends from college also stayed in Virginia or moved North. So, being in North Carolina, I was on my own.
And that was a choice. I figured it’d be an exciting new chapter of my life. And it was. But I underestimated just how hard it would be to make new friendships.
4 Crucial Mindset Shifts That Helped Me Make Friends In My Twenties
Here’s what I believe changed the game for me when it came to making friends in my twenties.
I tried to make friends in so many ways in my twenties, but I think what ultimately held me back was my mindset.
I would hang out with co-workers at my full-time and part-time jobs. I participated in sports leagues like girls basketball and co-ed soccer. I would hang out with friends of friends. Meet up with people I knew from college. See if my neighbors would be down to do something. The list goes on.
But the more I think about my lack of friendships in my early and mid twenties, the more I think that my mindset was the major thing that held me back.
So, here are all the ways in which my mindset has changed over the last decade. I hope that these mindset shifts will get you thinking about how you operate when it comes to making new friends, too.
1. I made decisions that made me a happier person overall.
It’s hard to make friends when you’re not happy with yourself or with your life.
So, this is perhaps the best thing that I did for myself when it came to making new friends: I started focusing on myself, and making decisions that made me truly happy.
For one, I got a new job.
Jobs take up so much of your mental energy, and if you’re feeling like what you’re doing at work isn’t enjoyable, or that you’re underpaid, or that your boss or coworkers are totally draining you, it’s really hard to maintain positivity enough to bring new and good friendships into your life in your spare time.
So, I got a new job. I got a new job that I felt proud of, that treated me really well, and where the culture and the people I worked with were so much more positive.
Getting a new job made me a much happier person overall.
Second, I moved.
I had lived in Raleigh for many years, and while I will always love it, I knew that after about 5 years there that it was time for change.
So, I moved to Florida with my partner David and our dog Bogey where the pace was slower and the beach was just half a mile away. This made all of us, I think, happier.
David also lived here previously, so he had established friends that we were able to come back to, in a sense, so that really helped. More on this in a bit.
Key Takeaway: It can be really hard to make new friends if you’re struggling to feel happy or content with your life. Are there any changes you can make that would make you happier?
2. I stopped taking it personally.
I used to get pretty down when things wouldn’t work out with someone I considered to be a potential friend, and I used to take things very personally.
If a potential friend didn’t text me back, for example, I used to think things like “they must not like me. If they liked me, they’d text me back…” or “I’m not interesting enough, that’s why they didn’t text me back. And they definitely don’t want to be friends with me.”
Over time, however, I developed more confidence in myself and what I believed I brought to the table as a friend, so if a potential friend didn’t text me back, I stopped assuming that meant something negative about me, or something negative at all.
Instead, I’d just figuratively shrug my shoulders and think, “oh well! If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.”
Taking things personally only made me more closed off and only made it harder for me to make friends.
So, I stayed focused on all of my positive qualities that make me a great friend, and told myself that the right people will come along eventually.
Key takeaway: Taking things personally is only harmful to one person – you. Once I learned this, I began to let things go much more quickly, and new friendships began to come my way more effortlessly.
3. I started to embrace differences.
I used to think that a potential friend had to be someone who was really similar to me. Whether they had the same hobbies, interests, political views, etc. I used to think that the more similar they were to me, the more likely we were to be great friends.
But over time I’ve come to realize that’s not necessarily the case… and that even the opposite may be true.
Of course having some similarities is great so that you can have something to bond over or talk about. However, you can learn so much from people who are different from you.
People who are different from you can change your life for the better by introducing you to new interests, experiences, and completely new perspectives; things you never would’ve experienced had you always stuck to the people who are most like you.
So, be careful not to shut people out just because they’re different from you. Instead, embrace the differences in the people you meet. Be flexible. Don’t automatically assume that you’re not compatible with a potential friend just because they seem to be different from you.
Key takeaway: Different doesn’t have to mean “incompatible”. It can simply mean “different than what you’re used to”.
4. I started to believe that I was worthy of having great friendships.
My mindset wasn’t that great when it came to making friends for the majority of my twenties.
Instead of having a mindset of “I’m a great person and friend and I can’t wait to make new friends!”, it was more, “I hope they’ll be friends with me. I hope they’ll see that I am worth being friends with”.
Hoping versus Knowing.
I didn’t really recognize all the ways in which I could add value to someone else’s life as their friend (oddly, I didn’t even really think about that…) and this prevented me from feeling worthy of great friendships.
I think the simple awareness that I was being so hard on myself and honestly kind of desperate, helped me change how I was thinking of myself.
It made me wonder why I was spending time being so hard on myself instead of paying attention to the qualities that make me a great friend to have.
This mindset shift helped me feel more confident and, I believe, attracted more people to me.
Key takeaway: Over time, I started viewing myself as a person who people would feel lucky to be friends with, instead of someone who was desperate for friends.
5 Places I’ve Actually Met Friends In My 20s
Here are a few places that I have actually met friends or people I really love and hope to get to know more in my late twenties.
1. Via Instagram
Instagram has brought me so many friendships, and I’m not just talking about online friendships (although those are great).
I’ve met up with people who lived near me that were also paying off debt when I was. I’ve met up with people for drinks, and I’ve met up with people to talk about business.
Instagram can truly be a great place for making friends in “real life”.
2. At a co-ed basketball game
I met the nicest person at a co-ed basketball league. We weren’t playing in the game, but we were in the stands watching our partners play on the same team together.
We struck up a conversation during one of their games and have become friends – I can’t wait to hang out with her more!!
3. I started hanging out with friends of friends
Once I started making a friend or two in Jacksonville, Florida, I started hanging out with their friends, which has been amazing.
Also, like I mentioned before, David used to live in Jacksonville and had a lot of friends here at the time. He was able to reconnect with them and many of them (and their partners) have become my friends now, too.
4. At a book club
Before I moved from Raleigh to Jacksonville, I was looking on the explore page at the Jacksonville, Florida location on Instagram.
A bunch of posts came up from people who had tagged Jacksonville, Florida in their posts, and one picture caught my eye in particular.
I tapped it, and realized that it was by a person who was part of a book club in Jacksonville. I thought to myself, if I end up moving to Jacksonville, I’m definitely going to DM her and ask if I can be a part of her book club.
And when I finally moved to Jacksonville, I did just that! And ended up meeting some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
In my twenties, the majority of my career was spent working as a business/data analyst, and I’ve been lucky enough to make a handful of friends through the few jobs that I had doing that.
Further, when I was laid off from my most recent full-time job last year (yes, the “new” one that I really liked!), one of my work friends and I decided that we would continue to chat on a monthly basis. We still do this even though we no longer work together.
Likewise, I’ve been able to become friends with people that I have coached, as well as people that I’ve done work with or for through my current job running Imperfect Taylor.
Not having many friends can feel very personal, as if something is wrong with you. But I promise you, that is not the case.
I used to feel the same way, but once I made these mindset shifts and truly started to believe that I was someone worthy of having great friendships (which you are, too), everything changed.
I’m still working on growing and fostering my friendships. These things take time. So please don’t be so hard on yourself, and always remember that you are not alone.
I hope this helps 🙂
This post was all about How To Make Friends In Your 20s.
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