Making New Friends When You're "Old" Doesn't Have To Suck

As a 20-something new to the big city, forging connections with other people (aka "making friends") can be a daunting task. Since most people have already established their circle of trust, how do you build your own crew? I usually don't mind the attention of being the newbie every once in a while, but sooner or later you just want that gang that you can laugh with, cry with, party with and grow with. School is usually the fertile ground where lifelong friendships spring from, but what do you do when you're firmly planted in the concrete jungle? In my 5 years of living in Toronto, I've found three ways that have helped me to find my own group of crazy, sexy, cool friends: 1. Co-workers can be your homies too...

As they say, "Don't eat where you sh*t!" I was never one for mixing business with pleasure, so once I started working "real" jobs, I decided that I would never confuse a co-worker for a friend. I had seen that movie a million times, and for one reason or another, it usually didn't end well.

However, when I moved to Toronto, I found myself spending a lot of time with people at work and I made some organic connections that I still keep to this day. I didn't set out to become BFFs with my cubicle mates, but when a vibe was felt, I proceeded very carefully. I slowly weeded out the "friends" that were too nosy, or who couldn't maintain their professionalism on Monday just because we hit the club on Saturday. I was soon left with a core group of friends who I knew I could trust in and out of the office, and I thank Jah for them everyday.

2. Reunited and it feels so good!

Another arena where I found friends was in the vintage store section of my social life. I got back in touch with some "oldies but goodies" - people I had been cool with back in university but lost track of after we celebrated, cap & gown style. Some of these friends are people who I wasn't necessarily TIGHT with, but with the shared university experience, it was easy to kick off a conversation.

With that solid foundation, I was able to (re)build a friendship with people who had similar values, yet varied life experiences. A cool connection to my past, while still creating new bonds.

3. Brand New-bians

The scariest category of all - friends that you make after just meeting on the fly. For an introvert like me, it's difficult to start up a conversation with a complete stranger - so I don't. Actually, that's a lie - sometimes when I'm out, I may compliment another chick on her hair, shoes, or outfit (we don't do this enough, ladies!), and strike up a nice conversation from there. This has resulted in keeping in touch with some of these fly ladies, and finding out that their dialogue and humour are just as fly as their outward appearance!

What is more comfortable for me is dealing with the "repeat offender" - this is the stranger who I run into twice, thrice, or more. As big as Toronto seems, it's actually quite small. Saying that, it's often silly to pretend you don't recognize someone when you see them time and time again. I'll give you an example.

This May, I went to a wedding and was seated at the table with 6 other complete strangers. Mr. Luvah-Luvah and I had mad jokes with them all, but especially another couple who we had a lot in common with. We enjoyed our night, then went our separate ways. Fast forward to June. At an AfroChic event, I saw the same couple, who were sponsors of the shindig. We didn't get to chat, but saw each other and shared a smile and a wave. Fast forward to August. Two weeks after our own nuptials, the Hubbs and I went to another wedding. Who pulled up beside us in the reception hall parking lot? THE SAME COUPLE.  After picking up on the same cool and fun vibes, we exchanged contact info, and have become fast friends.

****Honourable mention goes to:

4. Something borrowed

Friends of friends are great for meeting new people and expanding your circle. It's almost the easiest way to meet decent folk, since most friends will have similar characteristics to what drew you to your original friend in the first place.

However, I've seen the downside to the mutual friend method - it may bring out a jealous side of your friend that you never experienced before. If you hit it off TOO well? Somebody might feel left out and forgotten. For me, friends of friends have been great for those wild nights when you want to pop champagne like you won a championship game - but be careful if you decide to hang out with that new friend without the one who is responsible for linking y'all up. Most people are mature enough to not have a problem with this, but you never know...

Do you find it difficult to make new friends the older you get? Have you ever been in a situation where you were removed from the friends you had, and needed to make new ones? What were your tactics?

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