Making friends as an adult is hard. When I first arrived in Puerto Rico in 2015, I knew one person (literally, just one person) — and I had no idea where to start making friends.
I stayed cooped up in my room for days, just typing away from my computer, “connecting” to my friends via social media. It was okay for a while… until it wasn’t.
Slowly but incredibly surely, my creative journey and #girlboss adventures started feeling lonelier and lonelier, sadder and sadder.
See, while social media and instant messaging apps have made it far easier to talk to people despite the thousands of miles (or the throes of traffic) that separate you...
Meeting a person offline, turning LOLs into real-life laughter, seeing reactions, hand gestures, hearing the change of pitch in someone’s voice when s/he gets excited talking about something s/he is passionate about — you have to admit, that’s a different magic all together.
No matter how introverted you are: finding a few people who truly get you and your passions is crucial for your growth.
But how DO you find your tribe outside of social media? How do you even BEGIN making new friends as a creative adult?
Here are 3 things that have worked for me so far — and I’ve turned them into, as always, ultra-actionable tips for you.
Tip #1: Join workshops, classes, and/or events
The Online Move: Search for workshops and events in your area
The Offline Move: ACTUALLY go to those workshops and events
It’s very easy to stay with the familiar, and avoid situations where you have to put yourself out there, introduce yourself, and then worry if people like you or not. For many of us, that fear gets bigger the older we get.
But that’s what Google is for. By searching for workshops, classes, and events that are about a topic that you’re actually already interested in (i.e. yoga, calligraphy, photography, etc.) — you’ll filter the people you meet, and you have an instant conversation starter! No more awkward small talk about the weather.
Try this right now:
- Get a piece of paper, and divide it into half.
- On the lefthand side, write a list of 5 things/topics you’re interested in, or are interested in learning more about.
- Use your Google skills! Search for nearby classes and events about that topic.
- On the righthand side: For each topic, write down 1-3 options for in-person activities you can do/attend.
- Once you have a list of about 5-10 different activities you can join, choose one, pick up the phone or write an e-mail to inquire about reserving a seat.
Most of the time, just the momentum and the curiosity of this Googling activity will propel you to finally sign up and do it. Enlist the company of one of your friends if you’re scared to go alone.
I remember, the first time I called a place up in Puerto Rico was because I wanted to try a yoga class, and I found a nearby studio. I ended up enjoying the class so much, that I signed up for a month’s membership, made a few friends, and now have that yoga studio as one of my clients for business development. All thanks to a quick Google search!
Tip #2: Go where your tribe converges: Join a coworking space.
The Online Move: Search for coworking places near your area
The Offline Move: Call them up to ask for special rates or upcoming events
I started coworking in 2011, very early on, when coworking wasn’t as common as it is now.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, a coworking space is defined by HBR as "membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting."
It’s community-powered, which means it largely thrives on the people that work in it, and their events and activities that bring this group of people together.
Not only do they have spacious interiors, an awesome coffee bar, great wifi, and quiet ambience, they also hold a lot of creative talks by established and up-and-coming creatives and entrepreneurs, such as: Dan Matutina, Jericson Co, and Prim Paypon.
If you’re a maker, and have products you’re interested in selling, they also have an Artist’s Residency: You can consign your products to Warehouse Eight’s shelves, so you can finally sell them in a legit space outside of Instagram.
My ROI for joining a coworking space in the last few years have been tenfold. It was in a coworking space that I met Sarah Meier (who I then collaborated with for Postura Project, and has mentored me in many ways), Team Manila, Dan Matutina, Amina Aranaz (who worked with me when I was still working on the Design Law for the Philippine Senate), and even Bianca Gonzalez (who was one of our biggest supporters in our fundraiser for Typhoon Yolanda’s victims).
These are incredible collaborators whom I would never have even DREAMED of meeting, if I hadn't strategically placed myself in a space where these progressive, creative people converge.
So find a place where your tribe converges: A coworking space is a great place to start.
TIP #3: Organize your own meetup!
The Online Move: Message a few of your online friends (who share your passion) and invite them for coffee/lunch/dinner.
The Offline Move: Keep it simple, just meet and let the conversation flow!
Sometimes the solution is right under our noses: If you can’t find your tribe, then create it!
If you’re into fashion, or maybe poetry, or maybe app development — find kindred spirits online (or maybe you already have 1 or 2), and invite them over for a simple coffee date.
It doesn’t have to be anything complicated (no program needed!) — maybe you can just bring your work for a little show and tell, or maybe even work on your own projects separately, but together on one table!
Keep it as simple as possible, and let it grow organically. That’s how the best friendships are formed anyway.
I've always wanted to start a women entrepreneurs' mastermind group, where we meet regularly & we keep each other accountable with our business goals... Well, HERE WE ARE!!! 💃🏽 I couldn't have attracted a more perfect group of 4 diverse women: all of them ridiculously heart-fueled, incredibly talented, amazingly why-driven. I suggest you follow them because we're going to make some magic in the next 90 days! #90braverdays #BraverBizladies . Trivia: I used my old Wanderrgirl interns' code of internal procedures & format (as in exact same doc, meeting agendas, weekly structure), so I feel like I've prototyped this for 4 years, and now it's finally evolved to what I've always wanted it to be! Note to self: See? Great things take time ❤️ So excited!!!
One of the best things about my work as a teacher: Getting to meet my students! Surprised my star students (most consistent with showing up & doing work) with a little meetup/in-person session with me. Loved all the insights and stories; so excited for what's next for these ladies! 💖 #givesmelife Mikli is working on her book, Mai is working on teaching a nutrition/health course, Shayne is working on selling her unique cork travel journals ❤️ #90braverdays #bravergoals
Some final tips for finding your creative tribe
Don’t close yourself off to your ‘usuals'
It’s easy to just stick with the familiar: our high school or college friends, or our colleagues — people who we already feel comfortable with. But people grow and change as they get older, and we develop different sides of ourselves. You have to give that side of yourself a chance to connect and grow outside of your usual zones!
Don’t be scared to approach people
Chances are, you’re both just anxious to say the first hello - so just get it over with! Tip: As an introvert, what helps me is to have 2-3 of questions in my mind-bank so that I don’t go blank whenever I talk to someone for the first time.
Be interested in them, not just about talking about you.
This is why I like questions a lot — it makes the conversation less about me (plus I don’t have to talk so much!).
Making friends is not about impressing other person with your resume or smarts, it’s about being genuinely interested in them.