I’m assuming that by now everyone has heard of whatweshouldcallubc.tumblr.com; I discovered it last week and went through the whole thing. Something that stuck out to me was a post about how people are “dying of loneliness”, and there was at least one other consisting of upper year students also saying how they’d only just found their place or still haven’t.
It made me think about how 1) it’s very common to not find your niche immediately as some people feel they should, and 2) how it’s very common for various organizations on campus to shove lots of ways to meet people down your throat and saying “Yes making friends is so easy here, you’ll have a group in no time.” Because seriously, meeting people and making friends with people are two very different things.
Some good ways of meeting people include:
- Introducing yourself to the people you sit near in your classes.
- Attending residence/AMS events.
- Hanging around in common areas, if you’re in residence.
- Joining an intramural team, or participating in other UBC REC events.
- Joining a club.
- Chatting up random people in line for Starbucks or at the bus stop.
- Wearing a nerdy t-shirt. It’s amazing how many nerds who love the same stuff you can attract.
It’s true, the above list is slightly skewed towards on-campus students. It’s an unfortunate fact, but if you want to meet people as a commuter, you have to put in effort. It evens out in the end though, because here’s the thing about making friends: it takes effort. Except for a few exceptionally outgoing individuals who are certainly not me, meeting someone does not equal being friends with them.
Some good ways of making friends with people (a skill that I am always trying to improve upon):
- Initiate conversation. I know you want them to start talking to you, that you want to feel like they like you, but realistically they’re probably sitting there thinking the same thing. And if you don’t speak up, no one will. And friendships generally aren’t born out of silence. (Not good at speaking to other humans? Start with, “Hey, how are you?” And ask questions. Ask them about their weekend, any exciting plans coming up, ask them about themselves, their preferences. Don’t give up, it takes practice.)
- Arrange a time to meet up where you can have some solid get-to-know you time. The five minutes before class starts does not count. Go for coffee, have a movie marathon in your dorm room, explore downtown, see a concert you’re both interested in, a one-on-one study session. Or it could be a group thing, too.
- Get their number and text them. Don’t be creepy or obsessive, but some casual banter can keep you on their radar and if you’re scared to ask them to hang out it can take some pressure off.
- Do/say nice things. People like people who make them feel good. Again, don’t paint their name on the side of the clock tower, but compliments and remembering their birthday or saving them a seat can go a long way.
- Meeting people and making friends go together best when you meet people in a place where you’re doing something you’re interested in; lots of the time they have the same mindset as you and you’ll have something to talk about and do together.
It kind of sounds like I’m giving dating advice here, but honestly, a good friendship takes nearly as much effort as a romantic relationship. If you don’t go out looking, most of the time, it isn’t going to land in your lap. Lots of people I know have made friends through their classes, and I met most of my friends through residence and knitting club. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll click with every person you make an effort to talk to, but if you never try, then you’ll never know. Just keep trying, because your kindred spirit is out there, looking for you too.