Ask Anna: Friending frenzy

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Anna Lowenthal

 

Q: Dear Anna, I’m a first-year here at IWU, and I’m having a lot of trouble finding friends. What can I do to meet more people?

A: Most of the time, having a lack of friends does not reflect on your friendship compatibility. Instead, it might reflect on your insecurities about putting yourself out there, meeting new people and making a few friends.

My first year at Illinois Wesleyan University, I had a hard time making friends— not because I wasn’t given the opportunity, but because I was too afraid to take it.
Sometimes, we assume that it is going to be very hard for us to make friends before we even try. What if they think you’re weird? What if they don’t like the way you dress? What if you say something that offends them?

While these are all valid concerns, they should not stop you from introducing yourself to someone new.

The first step to making a friend is to be yourself— so don’t worry about what you’re wearing or if you’re weird or offensive. The kinds of friends you want to make are the people who will tolerate your “you”-ness and not make you feel as though you have to cover it up.

Don’t have an idea of what your friends should be like. They don’t have to listen to the same music, like the same food or even speak the same language. If you take the time to start a conversation with just about any stranger, you’ll soon find that you have much more in common than you originally thought.

Be bold. You can’t always expect that cool person from your poetry class to ask you to hang out. Sometimes you’ll have to do the inviting. If you want to make some friends, you can’t just wait for them to fall into your lap. Seek them out.

Understand that not all of your friends are going to be your best friend forever, and that’s all right. You can have your party buddies, study buddies and think-deeply-about-life buddies, and all of them can be valuable in a different way. Having a wide variety of friends only means you have a wide variety of choices to make with your Friday nights.

If you’re going to be a friend, be a good one. Having quality people in your life also means you have to reciprocate. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose the friends you’ve gained.

Give and forgive. Understand that your friends are going to do things that hurt your feelings, and it isn’t a personal stab when it happens. They’ll accidentally ditch you. They won’t pick up the phone when you desperately need them. That’s life—and don’t hold a grudge about it.

Finding friends can be hard, but if you leave expectations behind and genuinely put yourself out there, you’ll have a close-knit circle of cool cats in no time!