Some people are naturally socialites, making friends with everyone in the room.
Sadly, I totally lack the ability. When someone asks me how I am, I’ve replied with “Thanks!” When an employee at the movie theatre says “Enjoy the show!” I’ve most definitely replied, “You, too!”
Basically, I’ve never learned how to appropriately engage in small talk. I hate it and it hates me.
Making friends in general is so difficult and doing so as an expat with locals is extra tough. Even though English people are very friendly and polite, it’s still weird to walk up to someone and start a conversation. And while there’s a huge expat scene in London, it costs about £30 ($60) just to take the train to see friends in the city.
I was complaining to my best bud and she suggested MeetUp. You can create a free account, write a bio and add your interests. Next you can browse through tons of groups in your area, depending on what you’re interested in doing. Some MeetUps are to go clubbing, hiking, play video games, make crafts, socialize at pubs, make new friends or meet potential dates.
The hard part for me is I would be going alone. I can’t think of many things worse!!!!! But I figured that nothing would change unless I did something different.
I really miss girl time, so I joined a Girls Night group that was created by a local girl my age. Our first meet up was at a pub on a Friday night with the intention of hanging out and having some pints. My anxiety skyrockets in social situations so basically I was terrified. The one redeeming factor was the group was meeting for the first time, which meant no one knew anyone else. Thank God.
I contemplated ditching the whole thing while I walked up to the pub. We all decided to meet outside so I introduced myself to an awkward-looking group, praying it was the MeetUp. Here we go!
After settling inside, the night was really great. Yes, there’s definitely awkward pauses while you’re desperately trying to think of something to ask someone. It happens. But I kept reminding myself that everyone is nervous and we all want the same thing: new friends.
Even though the group was created by a girl my age (early twenties) we had a few ladies who’s children were grown and married. Even a grandmother who was hilarious and showed me photos of her 30-something daughter getting Canadian citizenship! A lot were mothers, single parents, or just girls who finished university and all their childhood friends had left the area.
While it was nerve-wracking and awkward, I would definitely go to another event with the group, even though I was 80% certain I was going to throw up just thinking about attending in the first place. Even if nothing comes of it, at least I know that I tried something new!