Meeting People vs. Making Friends

I’m assuming that by now everyone has heard of; 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.


Filed under Campus Life, Wellness

4 Responses to Meeting People vs. Making Friends

  1. brian

    Hello samantha! I just wanted to say thanks for your blog post. I’m in my third year, and being someone who’s faced loneliness for a majority of their life, I have to agree with the majority you’ve said.

    I think there’s definitely some groups of people I’d like to hang out with more often, but I think I speak for a lot of shy people when I say it’s pretty darn hard to muster up the courage to ask if they’d be okay with having you in their company.

    I think my own advice to people out there in a situation like me is: take small steps. What I mean by that is, get to know other people in school a little more! Try striking up conversations, and don’t worry about having to impress others or fearing that you’ll embarrass yourself or something. Chuck all of those thoughts out the window, and just go talk to people in your class! If they seem like they enjoy talking to you (which I’m sure will be the case in many occasions) then it’s far less scary to ask them to hang out, as opposed to people who show no interest in talking to you (aka people who suck and don’t appreciate how awesome you really are).

    Of course, there’s always the feeling of uncertainty if you signal your interest in spending time with those potential friends, especially if you’re trying to tag along with a group of people as opposed to making plans of your own. Again, take small steps. Ask if they want to have lunch with you, study with you, check out a campus event with you, etc. If they say yes, then awesome! If they say no, then like I said, they probably don’t know how amazing you really are, which is unfortunately their loss.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post, but good luck to you guys! No matter what you might think, you’re not “forever alone”. :)

    • brian

      p.s. if people say “sorry, (insert reason for being busy)” then don’t take it personally. Try to schedule another day with them. Of course, if they don’t seem interested in rescheduling, or if you’ve already tried asking them a couple times and it hasn’t worked, then it’s probably best to move on.

  2. Aseel

    Hi Samantha!!
    I just came across your blog :) I enjoyed reading this post, and I’m really glad to know that I’m not the only one who feels lonely. This is my first year at UBC, and although I do love it, it is so overwhelmingly big! I have met new people who are awesome and we did fun activities together, but I don’t see them every day, and so sometimes I just feel like interacting with humans, nothing fancy, just a good old conversation (thought-provoking or interesting for bonus)! I get so many opportunities during the day, like while waiting for the bus, in the bus, in Irving, etc. But I’m such a coward and am so afraid of rejection that I don’t, and I feel worse after. It is true that some people are judgemental jerks and will only interact with certain “types” of people, so I’m always so afraid the person I talk to will turn out to be like that and just smile and go like “sureee…” and run for their lives as soon as they get a chance. It has hallened and left me feeling like “what is it about me that they don’t they like? Why am I not cool enough for them?” I convince myself that I don’t give a crap and I know people who love me but it still hurts to be spoken to like that. Sometimes I just don’t understand people. I’m tired of this and want to become more brave and restore my faith in UBC students and humanity in general. I know there are very interesting, intellectual people out there waiting to be met. I don’t want to just keep observing friends enjoying themselves casually, while I wait for the day where I can meet up with the few friends I’ve made, I want to strike up conversations with many different people and maybe make new friends that way. Any advice?

    • Hi Aseel. Ah, your comment really brought me back in time. I know it can be really hard and lonely in first year, but take heart in the fact that almost every other first year feels the same way. Not that that actually helps, I know. Although I’m hardly an expert at making friends, here is my advice:
      Keep in mind that not everybody wants to talk at any given time; a lot of people on the bus are exhausted and just want to listen to music, and it has nothing to do with you. If someone is studying alone at Irving, it probably also has nothing to do with you, they just want to get some work done. Try to find situations where people might be expecting a conversation more, like at the beginning of class with someone you sit next to often, or at a club event, or any kind of event really. There definitely are very interesting, intellectual people on campus, so maybe try attending events that interest you, and you can find like minded people there. There are always special guest lectures going on, or again join a club that interests you. Not every club has a vibe that will suit you, so look around a bit til you find something you like.
      I know this comment is already reaching essay proportions but I want to tell you a story of how I made my best friends at UBC. I kind of knew all of them before, but we didn’t really hang out much and become actual friends until February of first year. The one thing that cemented our friendship was participating in Totem’s Best Dance Crew which was totally ridiculous, but brought us together. I almost didn’t join them. So maybe look for teams around campus who need another person? Whether it’s a sport or something totally out of your comfort zone, give that a try.
      Hopefully some of that helps; I know it’s hard. Keep you chin up.

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