One of the biggest mistakes I made during my first year in California was not putting myself out there and meeting new people.
It's hard to make immediate connections when you move to a new city.
And breaking into existing social circles is difficult.
I was lucky to have a very close friend 30 minutes away, and my Aunt and Cousin not too far either, but they were the only people I knew.
Hanging out with my boyfriend Steve was always a no-brainer, but I craved social variety - a girlfriend I could spontaneously grab a glass of wine with during the week, or a go-to couple that we meshed so perfectly with that we could have them over for dinner, or an impromptu game night.
When I started to really, really make it a priority to put myself out there, all of a sudden I was making acquaintances and building friendships like wildfire. It happened so fast that I wished I had made an effort sooner and not waited a whole year.
Want to know the secret?!!!
If you're not familiar with Meetup, it's a platform for meeting people based around common interests. There are groups for everything under the sun - coffee co-working, yoga, trivia nights, craft beer, hiking, you name it. You can start your own group (for a nominal annual fee), or join an existing group and see what types of events they have planned.
One night while browsing the site, I discovered a brand new group had formed for couples in their 20's and 30's. Without a speck of hesitation, I immediately jumped at the chance to join.
Here is what was so great about the Meetup group I joined:
- All of the couples were recent transplants to Southern California and didn't know a lot of people
- As a result, effort was invested early on to forge genuine friendships
I can't stress that last point enough. When everyone is in the same boat and actually wants to make the effort to be friends, it simplifies the process. Win-win!
Anyway, let me backtrack. After joining the group, I decided to introduce myself to the group creator using Meetup's private messaging feature. Coincidentally, it turned out we lived in the same neighborhood, less than a mile apart! After some back and forth emailing, we made plans to double date with our boyfriends at a local Mexican restaurant and ended up hitting it off.
She later took me under her wing, introducing me to two other girls she had recently become friends with, and from there, my San Diego social circle began to take shape.
Steve and I attended a few events through the couples group (a bowling outing, a happy hour trivia night, an improv comedy show, and a hike), before we found that plans started coming together naturally, out of exchanging numbers and befriending some of the members on Facebook.
Our San Diego friends moved here from all over: London, Toronto, Utah, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Orange County.
This past year, I attended one of their weddings. There have been camping trips, birthday parties, bonfires, and girl's weekends in Palm Springs. I co-hosted a holiday party with one of them last December.
It has been so amazing having a great group of friends in my city, and it's funny to think that I met nearly ALL OF THEM via the internet!
- Become a member of 3-5 groups, for variety:
- Are you a pet-owner? There are general groups for dogs, and some even created for specific breeds.
- Do you have a favorite sports team? Even in San Diego, there are groups here for transplants that love the Patriots!
- Are you a Mom-to-be hoping to connect with other pregnant women?
- Do you want to meet other couples, or are you single and interested in joining a generic, co-ed social group?
- Do you have any favorite outdoor activities? Organized hikes, boating trips, walks, and pick-up soccer can be fun ways to get out and explore your city
- Do you play a musical instrument, or have an artistic hobby?
- Maybe you have a "geeky" interest that you want to partake in with others who share the same passion for it?
- Join a group that's structured for your age range (20's, 30's, 40's, etc.). If the couples group was open to all ages, we may not have meshed as well as we did
- Don't be shy about reaching out to people you think you might hit it off with.
Meetup allows you to leave comments on someone's member profile, or you can also use the messaging feature
- You might attend a meetup and determine that it's either awkward or just not your thing, but don't let that be the end of it! Try another. Many people I've met through Meetup have attended at least one that didn't work for them
- In most cities, you'll find meetups for free workout classes, bootcamps, and donation-based yoga sessions. This is an awesome way to meet new people AND get your fitness on, within budget
- Looking for a job? Meetup is a great avenue for workshops and panels, networking opportunities tailored to young professionals, and co-working (if you are self-employed or work remotely)
Have you joined Meetup?
BY ALISON KINSEY
Alison Kinsey is a serial mover and the founder of City Leaper. She craves adventure, movement, and new beginnings. Her most recent move was over 3,000 miles, from New Hampshire to California, where she lives with her husband and her two dogs.