Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making Friends as an Adult

Back in the day, the NAS ladies linked-up posts talking about building real-life community. At that time, I was in one of my blogging ruts (read: like always) and neglected that topic. Mea culpa.

Well, I've been thinking about this exact topic for...oh, probably more than 2 years. No joke.

You see, when college graduation is rapidly approaching and you realize that no matter where you go, you'll need to start from scratch in the friend department...eek! Cue freak out mode!!

When I graduated from college a little more than 2 years ago, I moved to a city only 45 minutes from where I went to school, but I was going to be living with people I didn't know, in a city where I knew few people, setting out of this journey we call "adulthood".

Within the first 6 months, I had moved twice, got used to two different batches of roommates, and readjusted to 2 different "seasons" of my work (summer and school year...very different levels of crazy!). So it took a solid 9 months before I realized " would be nice to make some friends my own age."

I work with college students all day, who I love, but adult friendships are essential to filling my social tank. And at the time, I lived with 4 other women, so for a while I just relied on that internal community to suffice...but it wasn't enough for my ENFP personality type.

After doing some searching around for young adult communities and activities available through the local parishes, I became discouraged. There was very little to offer. A couple of communities existed, but weren't what I was looking for. I just wanted to have a social community that could potentially lead to deeper events (bible studies, talk series, etc.), but I believe that building friendships is the essential first step.

So I was left with this dilemma: What the heck?! Where are all the young people?! Single, married, didn't matter to me...I want to be your friend! In college it was so easy to make friends! Dorms are natural places to meet new people, plus the hundreds of clubs and interest groups were perfect places to make friends. I found met most of my close friends through the Newman Center...but where was the adult version of this?!

these ladies are some of my best friends from college....where were the people like them?!
photo circa senior year spring break in Gulf Shores, AL

It's almost funny to look back and remember where I was a year ago: frustrated after meeting with my (former) pastor who told me that single people and married people can't be friends because they can't relate to each other (not true, by the way) and simply wanting to build some holy friendships with people who would build me up as a person and vice versa.

But it's not really funny, because this is a very real reality for many young adults who struggle to build friendships in post-college life.

Today, I have (THANK GOD!) a thriving social life and a group of friends who are some of the best people I've ever known. We have so much fun together and I leave our gatherings renewed in mind and spirit. We hold each other accountable, we encourage personal and spiritual growth, and we genuinely love spending time together.

So how did this all happen?! What changed?? Well, I have a couple of pieces of advice for anyone who is where I was a year ago. I truly know where you're coming from, and while I'm no expert, maybe some of this could help you :)

Take Initiative

A common complaint I hear (and have said) is "The Church doesn't minister to us young people! There are events for high school students, college kids, and married folk...but what about us? There's a gap they're missing and it's so frustrating!"

Yep, that's annoying.

BUT when you think about it, YOU are the Church. YOU are part of the body of Christ. So if YOU feel the need for a new ministry, it might be up to YOU to create something through your parish or with other young adults you know. It can be super intimidating, especially if you don't have the support of your pastor, but you can't always wait around for someone else to address a need you have, sometimes we need to step up and lead!

I'm so grateful for the amazing priests who helped my friends and I meet new people, without them, we wouldn't have any of these relationships. But what it took was stopping our belly-aching and telling them that we had this need, we wanted to address it, and asking for them to help us.

Keep it Simple

When a new young adult group is being created, sometimes there's a tendency to begin with a bible study, or a theological discussion, or or or. But, from my experience, these events can be a.) difficult to just get to know people and b.) intimidating for new people to join and feel comfortable.

We started our "Young Professionals" group by going out for dinner. There were 4 people to start (2 priests, 2 young adults) and each person was instructed to bring at least one friend to dinner. That first dinner brought out 10 people. Then at that dinner, the next dinner date and time was set and everyone agreed to bring a new person. And so on and so on and so on....

Now, we have an email list that goes out to 42 young adults. Yep, 42! Insane! Not everyone comes to dinner each time, and there is a group of about 12 of us who've become close friends, but all of these 42 people have come to a dinner at one point or another! Those of us who wanted to build community did.

Dinner is non-threatening, casual, and hey! Everyone has to eat, right? By starting off simple, authentic friendships can be formed and deeper events can bloom (ex: bible study, silent retreat, etc.).

Don't Give Up!

The desire for community is natural! It is how we were made! God said in Genesis “it is not good for the man to be alone" and this doesn't just relate to marriage! We were made to live in community, so even if it feels like there isn't anyone else who wants to make friends, believe me, they're out there!

I think an important thing to keep in mind is that you aren't just doing this for yourself. This is a ministry for others as well, to serve others in their journey toward striving-to-be-holy community. It really is essential that if God is putting this desire on your heart, which is a GOOD desire, you try to do His will and build community. Yes, you will benefit in the process, but you'll also be serving others like you!

Despite potential frustration, set-backs, or lack of understanding from others that might occur, I encourage you to press on! Don't give up!

I hope some of this helps! Please let me know if I can elaborate or be more clear! And don't hesitate to ask questions! I have been so blessed by the community I've found and want to help anyone I can to do the same!

And for those of you would are part of a thriving young adult community, what has your experience been? What advice do you have? Please share!


  1. So amazing!

    Man, I hope I have some successful news soon about my parish young adult group! :)

  2. So glad you found your community! Sometimes it takes a while to build, and man it can be lonely in the building process :(

    But thank God for His faithfulness in bringing us friends! :)

  3. So great!!!!
    I have gotten frustrated here when various people try to diminish the importance of the social aspect. The bible study is great, the theology is awesome and needed but the social is crucial. I am so much more likely to open up in these other areas if I really know you and feel comfortable with you.
    So wonderful that you had such success!!!

  4. Such good advice for building/finding community!


Be my friend and leave a comment! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...