Ask A Woman: Socializing when living and working solo
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I’m a 24 year old male, 2 years out of college, working for corporate America. Luckily, I have an amazing opportunity to be working internationally. Unfortunately, I happen to be stuck in the middle of the UK where there’s a bunch of farmland. I happen to be a true city boy. Nonetheless, there are young people, universities, and bars around. It’s been hard for me because all of my coworkers are married with children. I’m usually by myself during the weekends. I feel extremely out of place and awkward if I go to a bar by myself. I’m a very social person once you get to know me, but I find it very difficult to approach strangers, especially by myself as a 24 year old male going to a bar… alone. Sounds kind of creepy doesn’t it?
I tried the online dating sites, I also tried meet up groups but I don’t seem to have a lot of luck with these. I rarely get a response on the online dating sites, and the meet up groups doesn’t fit my demographic. I’m a pretty down to earth guy, and need an outlet when working internationally. It does get pretty lonely when I have no friends around, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. So what would you do if you were in my situation?
I feel your pain. Making friends as an adult is really hard. In elementary school you share your Oreos with the kid next to you at the lunch table and you’re buds for life. In high school you soothe the nerves of a fellow runner before a track meet and they vote for you for prom queen. In college you invite someone from your floor to a study group and that night they’re holding your hair while you puke up jello shots. In adulthood…not so easy. I remember my first real job out of college. I worked Monday through Friday, 8-5, and then I’d come home, make a cheap dinner, and look around my crappy, empty apartment like, what the hell just happened to my life? Six months ago I was going out every night of the week. Now everyone I know lives in another city and my only company is Friends reruns on TBS. It was a dark time.
But, it gets better. You’ll figure out how to make friends as an adult, and how to maintain those friendships, too. It’s slower and more challenging but hopefully in your case you won’t always be a city boy living in Hickville. So now that I’ve wrapped you in my comforting reassurance that you are not a loser, a solution to your problem is what we need.
Well you shot down my first two ideas: online dating sites and meet up groups. Kudos for taking the initiative, though, and pursuing both. Other ideas: you said there’s a university near by. Take a class. Something fun and easy like an art class or group sports class where you’ll meet people with similar interests. If they offer nights or weekend classes, you may be more likely to meet someone like yourself–already graduated, with a full-time job, just looking to pursue a hobby.
Solitude can provide the opportunity to turn yourself into whoever you want to be. (UK Photo Credit: ShiroKazan)
You don’t say what college you graduated from but if it’s big enough, there may be an alumni group that meets nearby. And if there’s not–start one! Or if your college was too small, create an alumni group for graduates who went to any college in that state. Or if you’re in a consortium of schools, start an alumni group for any graduate from, say, a Jesuit college. There are bars close to you? Drop in and see if they have any kind of bar game leagues–like darts, bowling, checkers, whatever. Set up a weekly pick-up soccer game, or teach those Brits how to play American football.
Yes, the married coworkers have responsibilities at home, but if you can count on one or two of them once a month for drinks or bowling, that’s one less day a month you’ll feel isolated . Get 5 or 10 people you can count for the same amount of time, and voila, full social schedule. These people may not end up being your best friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful experiences with them, and enjoy their company. While you’re building this group of friends, try not to focus on the time you spend alone being sad or pathetic. Time spent alone can be very satisfying if you’re doing something worthwhile. Spend your weekends taking small trips (everything in Europe is so close together, I’d imagine you could see quite a bit), or learning to brew beer in your living room, or reading great literature. Concentrate on making yourself an interesting, well-rounded person so that when you do meet people, you have a lot to offer.
Men, who else has a great idea for connecting with other like-minded people in the wilds of Queen Elizabeth’s kingdom?
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