There’s an era in early adulthood when the obligations of existing friendships can become so overwhelming we kind of shut down shop on making new friends. Between destination weddings, baby showers, 30th birthday parties, and college reunions, the chorus of “No New Friends” has become a popular mantra for some people I know. I’m here to argue that not only are new friends worth it, they’re crucial to living your best life. Scroll down to discover a few reasons why making new friends is so important, then check out this article on exactly how to do it. Let’s be friends.

featured image by hannah faith

1. You need friends in close physical proximity.

Think back to some of your most cherished memories with old friends — some of them were probably spontaneous or unplanned. The day you cut class and went for a drive on a beautiful afternoon, that time you ran into each other at a great concert, the impromptu happy hour that turned into a late dinner. The point is that some of the best stuff of life comes when you’re connecting with the people who are RIGHT THERE. If you find that most of the conversations you’re having take place digitally, you should consider opening yourself up to some face-to-face ones with people who live nearby.

It’s not about neglecting or abandoning old friendships, it’s about opening yourself up to the time and place that you’re in now.

2. New friends can help you discover your truest self and grow as a person.

One of the hardest things about early adulthood is leaving that social “bubble” of the college and post-college years. As we get older and navigate through life, our paths tend to diverge and become more individualistic. You may not have “everything” in common with new friends — you may be different ages, from different backgrounds, even from different countries. But these differences can help you see yourself more clearly, and you may find that some of the things that used to seem so important (like what summer camp you went to, or what sorority you were in) actually aren’t that important to you anymore. New friendships can help you define your identity, and give you the freedom to chose who you really want to be now and in the future.

3. You may have more in common with new friends than you do with anyone else.

Again, while you may not have a parallel past with someone you meet now, it’s possible that you have a very parallel present. What I mean is that maybe you both moved to your current city looking to break into the same industry, or maybe you both have newborn babies. Maybe you both just got out of bad breakups. The point is that it’s crucial to have people in our lives who can relate to what’s going on with us RIGHT NOW. It can be as simple as finding someone else who loves to play tennis, or someone who also wants to become a coder. That’s why one of the best ways to make new friends has always been taking a class in something you’re interested in. When you open yourself up to new people, you may find that you’re not as alone in dealing with your current challenges as you thought you were.

4. Meeting new people builds confidence and keeps your social skills sharp.

If you haven’t been open to making new friends for a while, it can be pretty terrifying to step outside of your social comfort zone. How will you come across to others? What if they don’t like you? What if they think you’re totally uncool? Challenging yourself to meet new people on a regular basis can help you overcome those fears and build your social confidence. You never know when you might need to tap into those skills in the future — like an unexpected move to a new city or finding yourself unemployed and in need of a new job. Having confidence in your own abilities to socially adapt to any situation is a major secret weapon in life.

5. New friendships are crucial for living in the present.

Through their proximity, new friends naturally enable you to live your most present minded life. The best moments in life happen when we’re fully relaxed and open to receiving the moment we’re in. New friends can provide a sometimes needed pull in the right direction. You can’t be defined by an old marriage or old job to someone who didn’t know you back then. They’ll only see you, as you are now, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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