By enakshi ganguly
As someone who graduated over a year ago, one thing that has drastically changed for me is making friends. Whereas before, I used to see the same set of people during classes, at organization events and meetings, in the student lounge, now, I only see a very small group of people and they either work with me, are my partner-in-life, or my mother. Things have definitely changed since I graduated, so I now struggle with how to make friends after graduating and how to keep them!
Making friends almost feels like dating, no matter if I meet them in person or via social media. I screen people for any ‘isms’, then we message back and forth until we decide when and where to meet, then we meet, we text again, we meet again, and keep doing that till one of us dies. Just kidding! I haven’t gotten very far in ‘courting’ potential friends, but it sure is a lot of effort. So, I must ask myself (and you), how do we make friends in an era that has digitized our self-expression? How do we let our authentic self shine through? Most importantly, how do we make genuine connection?
There is nothing wrong with meeting folks via social media, including through apps. Millenials, especially millenial people of color, are especially hard pressed for time, as we are overworked, undercompensated, and often swimming in debt. It’s absolutely valid to seek friends using digital spaces. However, I don’t want to have text message friendships. Though I’m very open to meeting folks using social media, I do want my friendships, if they are to be consistent and present in my life, to blossom organically and through in-person interactions as much as is possible.
Here are some ways I plan on connecting with folks:
- Hanging out with them one on one
- It’s important for me to get a sense of folks before I invite them into any meaningful facet of my life, like introducing them to my partner, having them at my home, cooking for them, etc. I want to see if this relationship has potential. Think of it as a vetting process but one that is based on intuition, conversation and just overall friend chemistry.
- Try new things out together
- This way I can get to know more about somebody. How they react to the experience, whether it be going to a restaurant or on a roller coaster. Plus, trying out new things with a new person is exciting and allows both of us to create new memories together that is unprecedented.
- Inviting them to events
- This is when the friendship is getting to the next level. I like this person, I want them to attend a community event with me, or meet some of my other friends. I want to connect them to others, because that’s a part of building on a friendship. If I want to talk to this new person about my experiences with my other friends, they should meet them in person at least. That makes me feel good, like I’m surrounding myself with folks who are connected with one another, and not disjointed, unknown to each other.
- Invite them to my home
- My home is a very important part of my life. It’s where I create, dream, imagine. It’s where I cook, clean, and rest. Once I feel comfortable with a new friend, I want to invite them in to my space. Perhaps they will meet my partner. What I really want from this step is to gain a sense of intimacy with them, so they know the friendship is secure and that we are here for each other!
- Express my love languages
- As most, I have a few love languages. My strongest are giving my time and verbal affirmation. The latter requires an amount of emotional labor that I’m willing to do for friends. I also love to cook for others and that takes time. Giving my love to the new friends in that way means we have arrived at a really good place of mutual trust and affection, which is so important in my relationships with others!
I believe that we can use digital spaces to connect with one another. I am also of the mind that we can’t stay connected or fully understand one another until we meet and go through the motions of building trust, getting to know one another, and having fun while doing it. Though my search for friends continues, and is a little different and a little difficult after graduating college, I truly believe the best of friendships are yet to come.
How do you like to make friends? What are some aspects of a relationship that you hold dear? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter (@allgoqpoc) and Instagram (@allgoqpoc)!