millennial building new friendshipsWhen you do a quick google search on “millennial friendships”, you will find headlines like “do millennials have friends” and “what percentage of millennials have no friends.” What daunting messages millennials are receiving about this chapter in their lives. As a generation, millennials have also grown up receiving messages about prosperity in higher education and the drive to keep working towards a larger goal.

Imagine this: You are freshly graduated from a 4-year institute (Go Vols!) and have moved to a new city in a different state to start your career. You quickly realize that connecting with your community isn’t as easy as talking to the peers in your class or attending a pre-arranged social event at the student union on a Friday night. So what are some things you can do to build new friendships and a new support network?

  • Be Intentional – Making friends is a process that requires time and energy. Planning out days and times that align with your work schedule and self-care is a must.
  • Get Involved With Your Hobbies or Try New Interests – Take a local art class, go on a hike, or try axe throwing. There is no expectation of perfection when getting involved, all that matters is you showed up and tried.
  • Find Community Spaces – Join a gym or book club at your local library or attend a small group at a religious institute. Adventuring to these groups gives you the opportunity to meet others who may share similar interests or offer a bold, new perspective on life.
  • Volunteer – There are many large organizations throughout communities such as Habitat for Humanity or local services for the homeless community. You can connect with the other volunteers or the very people you are helping to support.
  • Check Out Social Media – There are likely a plethora of groups geared towards what is happening in your city. This is a great way to stay informed about all the current social happenings.
  • Connect With Coworkers – When you create supportive work environments, those relationships can transition into deeper bonds. Personally, I’ve been given the opportunity to find and build great friendships with my coworkers at Garrett Counseling.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the world’s current state due to the COVID pandemic. Social distancing is a must to help keep our communities safe, but this can also lead to feelings of being disconnected. Many of the suggestions I mentioned above have virtual meeting options at this time and can still be a great way to build new friendships.

Those ideas are great, right?! But just showing up isn’t enough. It’s important to introduce yourself to the people in the room, as well as truly listen to what others say to you. Here are some important tips for communicating:

  • Introduce Yourself – Tell them your name, what you like to do for fun, and always which Harry Potter house were you sorted into.
  • Listen to Understand What the Other Person is Saying and Not Just to Respond – Listening shows you care, and the purpose is to learn about them not find the next pause where you can interject how that same thing happened to a friend of your second cousin.
  • Make Eye Contact – You want to show the person you are attentive.
  • Ask Questions – They may share a tidbit of information and you can follow up with open-ended questions such as “Tell me more about that?” or “How do you like that?”
  • What’s On Your Face? – Are you glaring intensely or continually yawning? Be sure to have a relaxed face and match your facial expressions to your mood and responses to the conversation.

Open and easy conversation is a hard skill to master, especially if you are in the process of building new friendships and developing new connections. Being exposed, vulnerable, and out of your comfort zone is a scary place to be. There are several ways to overcome this, but I want to share my favorite tool to use – Holstee Reflection Cards. These cards can be used to initiate conversation and explore interests, values, and fun stories with anyone you use them with. Holstee Reflection cards contain over 100 conversation starters to use when you are trying to connect with someone, whether they are a new friend or an old one. Simply invite your friend to participate in a fun card conversation game with you. These cards will open up topics such as career aspirations, past experiences, childhood memories, or personal interests in a variety of different themes. These cards are so fun, and will guarantee interesting conversations and deeper connection.

If you feel that working with a counselor could help you in this chapter of your life, Garrett Counseling has a team of counselors in Jacksonville, Huntsville, and Albertville / Boaz, Alabama. Contact us to schedule an appointment by calling 256-239-5662 or by clicking here.

This blog was written by Emily Tester. You can learn more about Emily here.