Michele Dillon (Lily Trotters ambassador, trail runner, and all around #unstoppable woman) shares her tips for making friends in new places! Keep reading for her tricks and tips.
Moving somewhere new can be scary for lots of reasons; finding your way around, getting acquainted with the best places to run, unpacking, starting a new job, etc. All of these things are a lot to handle, so making new friends should be something that can make your new life easier, or at least more fun! If you are unsure of where to start in this endeavor, the following are a few tips from a seasoned wandering adventurer.
1) Find Your Home-- It's extremely important to feel like you are living in the place that is right for you. Otherwise, you will never fully commit yourself to finding friends if you don't feel like you are rooted there. It's OK to have lived somewhere for a long time, or even a short amount of time, and realize it's not the place for you. This is a big world, don't waste your time being somewhere that does not make you happy.
2) Be Open To It-- This is probably the most important piece of advice for making friends. You may WANT new friends but it's a completely different thing to be open to MAKING new friends. It takes some effort and some getting outside of your comfort zone. I personally deal with social anxiety where I get extremely nervous about the idea of meeting new people. I sign up for things and then talk myself out of it at the last minute because I'm too scared. If you're someone who experiences this too, know that it's OK to give in to the fear everyone once in a while and stay home, but it's absolutely necessary to face it eventually if you want to find your people.
3) Find Friends Via Instagram-- This may sound weird to some people, like online dating but for friends. But I swear--this is where I have found most of my current and awesome friends. How? Because it's one of the easiest places to find other people with like minded interests and hobbies. You like trail running? Search hashtags related to it and you'll most likely find someone who has been somewhere amazing and can strike up a conversation by commenting on their pictures. It's a million times easier to start talking with someone virtually and vet whether they'd make a good friend. Meeting up for a run is an even more sure fire way to figure it out. It's still shocking to me how many new friends I meet through the world of Instagram.
4) Use Your Hobby As The Icebreaker-- This plays a little into number 3 but also applies to the real world, too. If you are in a social situation and realize that those in the group may have a similar hobby to yours, jump in! Everyone LOVES to talk about their hobbies and bonding over them is a great way to meet fellow adventure buddies.
5) Go To Running Events/Clubs-- This is the one that was the hardest for me due to my aforementioned social anxiety, but it is also the easiest way to make friends and sometimes even come home with prizes. Most run club events are short and tend to keep to everyone's overall pace so don't expect an amazing workout from them but that's not why you're going. You're going to stalk potential besties. Search for run clubs through Facebook, your favorite running store and even Instagram. They are pretty easy to find, you just have to take the first step of showing up.
6) Don't Overwhelm Yourself-- It's easy to move to a new place and proclaim "I need new friends now or I'll never make it here!" Whereas yes, making new friends will make your transition easier, don't overwhelm yourself by trying to take on the world in the first month. Making friends is a process and will happen naturally over time as you put yourself out there.
7) Be Friendly On The Trails & Road-- Road running and trail running are a little different when it comes to the opportunity of making a friend while out on your run. Road runners tend to stick to themselves, earbuds in and focused on their workout. Trail runners have more of an open music, open personality and open mouth policy (gotta keep those bears away!). Sometimes if you run into someone on the trail and say hi, you could end up in a full on conversation. I'm generalizing of course, there all different kinds of runners in both road and trail but my opinion is whichever one you are running, be friendly. Wave, say hi, high five, say please and thank you when passing, smile...whatever feels natural to you. Being friendly while running may not always result in a budding friendship, but it will always make the others around you feel the love and possibly spread it along with them.
8) Be Supportive-- While making new friends and keeping old ones, it's always important to be supportive of their goals...and not competitive. Some people naturally have a competitive side to them and even though they may not intend to give into it with their friends, it can still happen. Be aware of how you are interacting with others. Running is a pretty individual sport, so don't get caught up in trying to best your friends times or beat them at a race. If you find yourself having difficulty being supportive of certain people, take a step back and assess if it's a true and healthy friendship. You may like someone for who they are, but if you feel in constant competition with them, it's better to back away and focus on more healthier relationships.
9) Run Grassroot Races-- Smaller races have smaller permits, meaning less people and more chance for personal interaction. Its more than likely that running a Grass Roots race, you will find a friend out on the course or even end up talking at the finish line with someone you saw that motivated you along the way. Plus, supporting local races and race directors is a great way to feel more connected within your community and also could open to doors to meeting even more awesome people.
The most important thing to remember is to not take making friends too seriously. If you are having to force relationships, it usually doesn’t end up working out very well. Get out there, have fun and eventually you will find a good group of close friends you can adventure with!
Follow Michele on her next adventure as she prepares for the Georgia Death Race this month! Michele currently lives in Colorado and is coached by David Roche.