It doesn’t take much to get a party underway. It’s particularly interesting when it happens among strangers, who only moments ago, had no idea they’d come together with such fervor.

How many of us instinctively say yes when invited out of the blue to play a round or two of Scrabble?  This friendly yet uncommon request would normally trigger an insurgence of excuses from us in order to escape the moment.

And that’s the issue isn’t it? When approached by strangers with requests of any kind, our mammalian brain instantly shifts into defense mode.  It’s difficult leaping away from hundreds of thousands of years of programming and conditioning to take advantage of such moments. Unfortunately, in the pursuit to protect ourselves we also end up filtering out a lot of good stuff too.

Why then is it so hard to make new friends, especially as an adult?

In order to make friends, you need to be a friend

For a while I was afraid I’d never make friends when I first arrived in Victoria. Everywhere I looked, it appeared that inner circles were well eastablished without a way of joining in.  I felt like the proverbial outsider, forever doomed to walk the earth alone.

I’ll admit, I do enjoy my own company.  Spending copious amounts of time reading, watching intense movies and documentaries are some of my favourite past-times and I tend to acquiesce more often than not to those activities instead of making an effort to socialize and mix things up with new people.

Not long ago, I discovered a blind-spot that kept my friending-success on hold. I had unwittingly become unapproachable with a dose of lagging confidence thrown in for good measure.

‘No way’, I thought.  In my mind, I was the quintessential people-person; inquiring into the lives of others, checking in on their well-being, and basically being the life of the party.  However, results don’t lie. I had work to do.

Lacking confidence might mean you fail to meet that new person who can open new doors of opportunity as far as your career and social life go.  You may even have met somebody that you’re extremely interested in, but you let your fears get the better of you and allowed the opportunity to slide by.

Forming new friendships at Niagara Market in the James Bay Neighborhood

 

Despite all of that, making friends, especially as an adult is a difficult thing to accomplish.

With new light shed on my particular situation​, I set out to make a concerted effort to meet people.  It paid off in spades.

When the surprising request to play presented itself, what struck me profoundly was the ease in which things unfolded.  I have a hunch about that.

Earlier that same day, I was debating the mechanics of ‘letting go’ and how we get to that point.  The mystery was not quite resolved, but in our enthusiastic attempt to understand the process, we concluded that when we truly disengage, in all ways; engerically, emotionally or even physically, new beginnings rush in to unfold around us.

That’s precisely what happened when asked to play Scrabble with women I recently met. I let go of old paradigms, jumped in and new circumstances presented itself.

Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life ~ Amy Poehler

The usual lame ‘excuses’ normally on the tip of my tongue, ready to provide reasons to bolt was challenged. I side-step the familiar verbiage and shifted into new possibilities. It was worth the effort.

A ‘happening’ formed that day which may well turn out to be an ongoing Saturday afternoon Scrabble club.  It might fizzle, but the magic of yes led to something intangible and uniquely special. The gift of new friendships were formed..

What about you?  Are you stuck when coming to new friendships? If so, try any one of the following tips and shake up your social calendar a bit:

  1. Go places where there are people you haven’t met yet.  Stop playing it so safe all the time.  We tend to always find ourselves among the same group of people.  Check out new options ie; meet-ups, special events, cooking classes, Zumba, fencing classes, extraordinary bookclubs, walking clubs or volunteer.
  2. Introduce yourself to someone new when you arrive at any event or occasion.  Don’t wait for something to happen, make something happen.  Say hello first.
  3. Exchange contact information with your new acquaintances.  Make the effort to take things further by presenting your business card for further followup.  What, no card? Make some.  You only need your name and phone or email on it.  I use a digital card so I never have an excuse.
  4. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Make the call. Follow up. Stop waiting. Make the call.
  5. If things don’t work out, don’t take it personally. Keep making new contacts.

As for my Scrabble moment, it taught me a valuable lesson.  Be open to new experiences and people willing to engage in lively and fun ways.  Scrabble may not be my game of choice, but it beautifully performed as the catalyst to a whole new set of unique conversations and powerful beginnings.

Btw…if you’re looking to dive into a serious bout of Monopoly, I’m game. 😉

 

Next time you’re in James Bay, stop in at Niagara Market. It’s the community/coffee/shopping experience you’ve been looking for.

 

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