Moving back to my hometown has been an interesting experience. More than anything, I really do love it. Fredericksburg is such a great little town with so much character and even for being relatively small (especially if you compare it to Northern Virginia), there is a lot to do. At first, the problem was finding people to do it with. After the holidays were over and everyone who was visiting was gone, it left me with just a few good friends who still remained in the area. I love to go out and do things, and with a limited pool of people to do those things with, I knew I needed to start meeting people.
For instance, I got my make-up done at Sephora (see post) and the girl who did it was super cute and about my age. We were chatting and having a really great time during the make-over, and I definitely thought she would be someone I would love to friends with. But how do you ask someone you barely know to hang out in a non-threatening, i'm-not-trying-to-hit-on-you way? It can tough and really nerve racking. What if they don't want to?
I'm DEFINITELY still learning how to do it, but I've already learned to just say hi and be friendly. The truth is, we're all in the same boat. We all want new friends, and people to connect with. If anything, how flattering is it that someone wants to be your friend even if you don't want to be theirs?
To get yourself out there, here are some of the things I started doing to ensure that I'm in a same-age environment and am giving myself plenty of opportunities to be around people like myself.
1. THE BAR
I know. This one is fairly obvious. Have a drink or two, compliment the girl next to you on her amazing outfit, start chatting, easy, right? Just a little liquid courage. It's an especially great place during sporting events. If you're there supporting your team, it's easy to meet others who support your team too and it's an instant connection. This can be a really great way, but sometimes I find that the people I meet out at the bars or clubs, only wanna go to bars and clubs; which can be fun, but a lot of times I'm looking for someone to do other things with.
Plus, what if you're starting at square one without knowing ANYONE in the area? It's even more intimidating going to the bar by yourself. For me, I need a friend or two to go out with to begin with. So that brought me to number 2.
I was having this exact same discussion with my mom and cousin when my mom suggested MeetUp.com. I had never heard of it before, but checked it out immediately. It's kind of like online dating, except you go out as groups with people interested in something similar to you. I found a few groups in the area that sounded like they were similar to me. My cousin and I went to a Happy Hour at Bonefish with a group of women in their 20s and met some AMAZING girls. We were really unsure of what we were getting into, but there were other people there just as unsure as we were. Once we all start talking, we had a great time. It was amazing how much we had in common. I walked away with 5 new friends including a new running buddy. If you haven't tried this site yet, I highly recommend it. Scared to go alone? Don't be! Most likely, you won't be the only one doing it for the first time.
3. THE GYM
My next recommendation is the gym. If you're an active person, joining a class or going to the gym at a consistent time daily or weekly is a great way to meet people too. The more you go and the more consistent you are, the more of the same people you'll see. I love doing the classes and going weekly because 90% of the people do it every week and you get to know them. Most gyms offer classes with your membership. Pick a class that you would really enjoy and that fits your schedule (I do spinning every Saturday) and put it in your calendar. I've gotten to know the instructors and a few class mates.
4. TAKE A CLASS OR JOIN A CLUB
Use LivingSocial, Groupon, or your community rec center to your advantage! Get a great deal on a class to take and go with an open mind. Most community Rec Centers offer cheap classes in things like cooking or swing dancing or gardening for a few weeks. Sign up for one and meet some people interested in the same things as you!
5. NO CLUB? START ONE!
Ok, so at this point, you've needed to have met a person or two. Amidst our discussion, my cousin and I decided that we both really wanted to be in a Book Club but couldn't find one in the area! We wanted to not just discussing these great books that we read, but also to enjoy some girl time and hopefully meet new people. So I got the ball rolling. I texted every girl I knew living in Fredericksburg (turns out, you always know more people than you think!) to see if they would be interested. I got some really excited responses. So I chose a book (Gone Girl which was AMAZING) and set a time and place. We are having our first meeting tonight (I'll let ya know how it goes)! We've kept the club open, meaning that all are welcome and you can anyone to the meeting, and we encourage it! You never know who might be a friend of a friend.
The key to meeting new people is to BE PROACTIVE! I read a quote somewhere about just saying 'Hi' to people. Yes, sometimes they may just flat out ignore you, but who cares? You don't hurt anyone just by saying hello. And who knows, it could turn into a great friendship!