|Add one more chair, and make room for people in your life.|
As of late, however, I think it's become even more difficult to connect with people. I can't quite figure it out, but I have some thoughts.
Over-caution: When you're a kid, even a college kid, you're less cautious with people. You're more willing to invite someone new over, or out for coffee or to the mall. As adults, we're more cautious about who we invite in to our homes, cars and lives. I'm not saying we shouldn't be safe, but do we sometimes take this too far?
Time constraints: In addition to our new found worries, we also have different priorities. We have homes, pets, spouses and in some cases, children. It's hard to justify going out for coffee to bond with a new friend when there's a pile of laundry to get done.
Fear of overstepping boundaries: I have several friends who I lost touch with when I was in college. Fast forward four years and add a complicated marital situation and kids to their lives and I worry that they won't see me as being friendly, but trying to butt into their privacy. I'm never sure how to approach this one.
Technology: I sat across the table from a coworker at a lunch not too long ago, and they spent the ENTIRE time on their Smart Phone. I felt so awkward. I try to avoid having my phone around when I eat, as I think it's a bad habit, and I tried to start a conversation for a few minutes, but eventually gave up since I felt like they were seeing me as bothersome, although I'm not sure why their game of Candy Crush was justification for them being rude.
Life status: My friends from Lynchburg currently fall into two categories. Married with children or single and partying. I don't have kids, but I am married and have no desire to party. I really just want a friend to go grocery shopping with, or to help me purge my closet and tell me which pants make my butt look big. However, that doesn't seem to be a priority of most of the other twenty somethings I know.
Despite all this, I haven't given up hope. I've made it my mission to reach out and connect with people more often as part of my Happiness Project. Here are 11 things I have either already done, or have plans to set in the works.
- Try something new. I went rock climbing last week with my friend Fez, and decided that I'll take it up on a more regular basis.
- Show up for the friends you have. Whether its their birthday, a Mary Kay event, or packing up to move, being there for the friends you do have can help you reconnect with old friends or get closer to newer ones.
- Embrace others in similar situations. I'm hosting a cookout next week for all the new teachers at my school. I was really nervous to reach out to them, but everyone responded with enthusiasm. Why didn't I try to do something like that sooner?
- Join or start a club. I'm thinking about trying to put together a big kids, children's book club, for adults who enjoy children's stories. Books like Harry Potter, Charlotte's Web and Bridge to Teribithia would definitely be options.
- Send a nice note. Snail mail, e-mail or Facebook are all acceptable. Encourage someone, congratulate them on their accomplishments, or tell them thank you for something. I've gotten a few of these in the last few months and it definitely made my day.
- Volunteer. Get involved with a cause that means something to you. You're guaranteed to meet people with similar interests.
- Use your guest pass. If you're a member of a gym or other activity that allows you to have a guest pass, use it. Invite someone new to come along and use the experience to bond.
- Be willing to work on it. You might get rejected a few times, but don't take it personally. Some people take a while to warm up, and many are genuinely busy.
- Ask other friends to play matchmaker.
- Take a class. You'll learn something new and meet others interested in learning the same thing.
- Write a blog. I'm still new to this, but I'm told blogging is a great way to connect with people. I'd love to meet some new friends through this thing.
Do you have suggestions? Want to connect? Feel free to share.