Making Friends on the Adult Playground

Humans are social animals, this is an undeniable truth. As we get older and we are no longer living in the social incubator of a school environment, it becomes harder to satisfy our need for social interaction. A social purgatory emerges for young people during this time–I am referring to the period that exists between leaving the social smorgasbord of school but before you have the built-in wolf pack that can come with parenthood. What I am trying to say is–it’s hard to make new friends as an adult, am I right?

Add the fact that we live in a state where the average age is 43 and New Hampshire’s social purgatory can seem uniquely vast. So, how do we find more opportunities to meet people and capitalize on them to build a fulfilling social life?

…Que Stay Work Play NH and this blog (Hey there! 👋). This blog is all about how to meet people, leverage the many activities/groups/events around our state, and (if all goes according to plan) make friends as a young person living here. I am not purporting to be an expert. If I am being honest, I don’t possess that magical quality that some have where they leave a trail of friends behind them every time they walk into a room full of strangers. My friend forging can be described as more of a slow burn—I wedge my way in and add more kindling to the friendship fire over time. Don’t laugh at my use of the term friendship fire, just wait, the analogies will get worse. Does this make me qualified to be the conductor of this friendship locomotive?! Yeah, why not? All aboard! Full steam ahead! Choo-choo!

A real-life friendship train! Photo credit to Molly Noyce Paré.

In all seriousness though, I hope it does qualify me. I have to work to make friends and I understand the struggles and stress sweats that come with forging new friendships. I also have lots of ideas about where to have your stress sweats in New Hampshire!

I have happily lived in New Hampshire all my life, I love this state an embarrassing amount and I have the tattoo to prove it. I have managed to move throughout the state eight times since entering the professional world. It feels like I have changed jobs almost the same number of times. Moreover, I have changed industries at least three times (campaigns/government to higher education to the energy sector). All this goes to show you that despite the built-in advantage of in-state friends and family from a lifetime in New Hampshire, I too have navigated the social networks of adulthood many times over.

With that all in mind, here is my threefold mission for this blog:

  1. To be a source of inspiration for places, organizations, activities, and ideas for where to find your people and how to trick them into being your friend;
  2. To provide advice (from sources more qualified than me) on how to forge friendships as an adult; and
  3. To provide insight through talking to other young people in New Hampshire who are also in the process of filling seats their Friendsgiving table.

Here is the part where I give some advice.

I want to start things off by building a solid foundation. Thus, this first edition is admittedly less juicy than the proceeding months will be, the rest of the posts are going to be so juicy, guys. This topic has been tackled by smarter and more qualified people already. With that in mind, I want to point to a great NPR series (all us cool young people are into NPR, right?) that I have enjoyed and learned from. It’s called NPR Toolkit and they did a three-episode arc called How to Make Friends. I know, it’s a little on the nose, but the episodes are brief and interesting. The first episode might be the best, it’s all about embracing the awkwardness to make new friends. Give it a listen!

I think the most important take away from this NPR series is that the cliché advice on meeting works. Just put yourself out there in settings where you have a shared interest and you will reap the benefits! We are not all comfortable with “just putting ourselves out there,” I get it. Don’t worry, I will include less anxiety-inducing advice in future posts. I will also share more ideas on where those settings might be, that will be the activities portion of the blog. I love activities, activities are my favorite!

To get you started, here are a couple of resources to find worthwhile activities in New Hampshire. Check out the event calendars from New Hampshire Magazine, World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, or the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Between the three resources, you will find a wide array of uniquely New Hampshire discussions, gatherings, and activities taking place all over the state.

Clearly, I am a nerd and not everyone wants to go to the events that I find interesting. The point is, that we each need to be proactive and search out things that are intriguing to us. Trust me, there is a lot more happening in our state than meets the eye! Find stuff that interests you and FOLLOW THROUGH. Here is the collaborative part, if you have resources, activities, or ideas that you think I should incorporate please provide them in the comments section. Otherwise, you will just get my nerdy ideas, 😊.

That’s it for now, I promise more substance in future blogs. My hope is that this first post sets the table and future posts will start heaping things onto your plate until you can’t fit anymore. Clearly, I have Thanksgiving on the mind, so Happy Thanksgiving see you next month when we are all ten pounds heavier!

5 Responses to “Making Friends on the Adult Playground”

  1. Hannah Coen-SalamancaNovember 26, 2019 at 10:57 am #

    As a transplant to New Hampshire, I love the idea of highlighting how to make friends here. Can’t wait to read more, John!

    • John GreeneNovember 27, 2019 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks, Hannah! I think we have some good ideas for the coming months, can’t wait to share them!

  2. Laura Harper LakeNovember 26, 2019 at 11:30 am #

    My Social Sports is an awesome program where you can sign up for various sports/activities and the whole aim to make friends! They have all kinds of sports, and some are as chill as cornhole! There are different leagues throughout NH, and there are certainly non-competitive teams, so you don’t have to worry about being a fantastically gifted player! I am captain of a volleyball team in the seacoast and have met many friends through it over the years.

    http://www.mysocialsports.com

    • John GreeneNovember 27, 2019 at 11:28 am #

      Great suggestion, Laura! I actually play volleyball in the league too. I agree, My SOcial Sports leagues are an awesome way to meet people in a fun environment. I am definitely putting this on the list of topics for upcoming blogs! Thanks for the comment!

      • SarahDecember 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

        I’ll second this and any and all other sports leagues – like Seacoast Ultimate! Playing team sports is such a great way to meet new people and satisfy the need to socialize! I wrote a blog post on Seacoast Ultimate here: https://stayworkplay.org/blog/ultimate-frisbee-saved-relationship-exercise/

        I think the need to socialize is also a driver for folks who attend young professional network events. It is certainly the only reason I ever attend Catapult events!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.