If you spend any time around children, you’ve probably witnessed how easy it is for them to make friends. From one day to the next, children will happily announce that they have made several new best friends. Unfortunately, as we get older, it can be harder and harder to make friends. Once we settle into a career and a routine, we aren’t exposed to new people as much, which makes it harder to make new friends. Once we find a partner, maybe have kids, or just stop exploring, it can start to feel impossible to make your social life more exciting.
The reason we don’t strike out to make new friends wherever we find ourselves has a lot to do with shame and fear of rejection. As we age, we worry more about what people think of us and fear not being wanted in a person’s life. This worry keeps us away from trying to reach out and connect with new people.
However, research has shown that increased social interaction can improve your quality of life. If you’ve started to find that your weekend plans are falling flat, you don’t have to resign yourself to your lonely state. Here are eight strategies that will help make your social life more exciting.
1. Learn to reach out
Oftentimes, we feel like people should come to us when we’re feeling lonely. However, this misguided thinking could be the thing that actually keeps us lonely. Sometimes, it’s all about putting in the effort. Friendships are work and people want to know that their presence in your life is desired. Some incredible friendships can be lost due to neglect, which is you have to get over your own ego and reach out to people and ask them to spend time with you. Make coffee dates, host friends at your home, and let people know that you genuinely want to see them and spend time with them. Don’t feel like you’ve let too much time pass to reach out, people are almost always happy to hear from long lost friends.
2. Say yes more
We lose out on a lot of great experiences by saying no. A big part of having an active and exciting social life is in saying yes to things. Start making a point to accept invitations to social events, outings, concerts, hikes, or other chances to meet and connect with people. If you’re introverted or anxious, this can seem daunting. In this case, try making connections online with groups of people that have similar interests to you so that you know you’ll have something to talk about when you arrive. You might be surprised at how much you end up enjoying yourself.
3. Work on your anxiety
As we mentioned above, social anxiety and generalized anxiety can be crippling to an exciting social life. Anticipatory anxiety can stop you from enjoying an upcoming event long before you even step out the door. If you notice that you are losing your struggle with anticipatory anxiety, try writing down your initial thoughts on paper. Wait for a time and then re-read the paper and try writing down the scenario if you reimagined it. For example, if at first blush you thought only of terrible things that could happen, try writing down how the event could be a great success.
4. Reject the fear of rejection
Our fear of rejection can be all-consuming and can be exactly what stops us from making new connections. The main thing to keep in mind when you’re taking a chance on making a new connection is that, even if the worst happens and that person decided they don’t want to be friends with you, then you’re right back to where you started and, really, no worse off. While this might not seem like a great option, consider this: there’s a lot less pressure if you have nothing to lose.
5. Do what you need to do to have confidence when you go out
Your self-love will influence a lot of what you do. If you feel down about your appearance, it may serve as just another excuse to avoid heading out and finding new friends. Work on your feelings towards yourself with healthy self-care methods and with addressing parts of yourself where you get mentally caught up. Feel unhealthy and unhappy with your physical appearance? Start a workout regimen. Feel like you’ve been wearing the same clothes forever? Change your style with a visit to Filly Flair Dress Boutique and try something new. Don’t give yourself more reasons to avoid achieving what you want.
6. Start to manage your calendar
Once you’ve started to bulk up your social, keep track of it by managing your calendar. Your calendar is a key tool so you don’t accidentally flake on someone or double-book yourself. Keeping a diligent schedule will also mean you can’t conveniently “forget” upcoming plans because they have you nervous.
7. Take advantage of the holidays
The holidays are when people come together, so take advantage of that! Go visit friends and bring cookies, go to the holiday parties you’re invited to, and take the time to write holiday cards to strike up friendships that you may have let fall to the wayside. This doesn’t only mean the December holidays, though. Take advantage of Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day to go to themed events or to host your own get-togethers to make new connections.
8. Learn to be a good guest
Once you’ve started creating your more exciting and fulfilling social life, make sure people will want to spend the time you gain by learning to be a good guest. Proper etiquette when you’re visiting someone’s home isn’t nearly as strict as it once was, but people will be more likely to want to invite someone back if they’re funny, friendly, and socially-independent enough that your hostess doesn’t need to babysit you. This will all come in time and with practice, which is why being the key guest at a dinner party might be a bit heavy at first, but you’ll soon let your own personality shine through.