Remember that day when the wind was blowing so hard you could hear her sharp tone rustling the trees and beating on the windows while you were lounging on your couch sipping a cup of tea, under a warm, fluffy blanket, thankful you didn’t need to be outside? This is the kind of feeling you have whenever around a true friend. But, what qualifies someone as a true friend?
Well, a true friend is someone who you trust, know that you can count on, and around whom you feel comfortable to be yourself. She defends you from snide comments, by others and yourself. She encourages you to be better and she cares for you, listening to your troubles. Of course, finding someone like that is hard. That’s why friends are considered precious stones, but most of the time we make it harder.
You see, making friends means stepping out of our comfort zone in order to meet new people and let them in. This can be uncomfortable and terrifying even, but also, a fun, light, and enriching experience. So allow me to break this whole “making-friends” thing into three simple steps.
Let’s imagine you are on your first day at a youth conference. It’s noon, the lecture just finished — great one by the way! — and you are really hungry. Actually, your stomach is growling. So you head to the cafeteria, serve yourself, and scan the room to figure out where you’re going to sit, but you find no one you know. You start panicking because you don’t know where to sit, you don’t want to eat alone, and you don’t know anybody that is there. But this is the perfect opportunity to make new friends.
First, let’s start with you: breathe; it’s all about your mindset. You’re looking for friends. Friends like you for who you are. So be yourself. Don’t pretend to like salad if you don’t like salad (although you should like salad!) and don’t pretend to be the “perfect you”, because chances are she is not as cool as the real you! Don’t be afraid. Do be kind, be nice, be you. You want people to be genuinely interested in being your friend, and they can only do that if you show them the real you. Oh and if they don’t like your quirkiness, it’s their loss, not yours. So relax!
Second, you already know that in order to make new friends you have to show them the real you, so now let’s talk about them. No matter what they show themselves to be, at the end of the day, they are just like you: a person with feelings, dreams, insecurities, battles, and hope. The more it looks like they have their life put together, by which I mean the perfect hair, family, character or relationship with God, the bigger the probability they’re struggling to maintain a façade. So don’t approach them as if they were on a whole different level. Approach them as humans. Give them the opportunity of being themselves, to make them comfortable to trust you. You’ll be surprised!
Third and last, after you’ve made a mental note about being yourself and remembered we’re all just people, walk towards the person that awakens your curiosity the most and say hello. Now, if you almost fainted at the idea of talking to a complete stranger, let me put it in another way. To come to the cafeteria, you walked. So we know you can do that. And you have pronounced the word “hello” a few hundred times, one more won’t hurt. So come on! Walk out of your comfort zone, literally, and make a new friend.
You did it! You walked up to her! You said “hello” and surprise, she said “hello” back! Now what? Ask her a question. Here is one easy tip from My Domaine. They give us an acronym with five vast subjects to pick from. The acronym is: F.O.R.M., which stands for “family or from, occupation, recreation, and motivation”. They explain as follows: “You can start up a conversation by asking where the woman is from, where she went to high school or college, whether she has kids, or whether she’s married… Then you could ask about her occupation—what she does, what she likes about her job, how she picked that field. From there, you can move to recreation—what she likes to do for fun or about her last vacation. For motivation, you can ask what drives her, what’s important to her outside of work, what would she do if she didn’t need to work.” Chances are, you won’t need to go through all of them, because you’ll find something in common or interesting, and when you realize it, you will have started a friendship.
There you go! It’s not as hard as it looks. Just remember to be real, that we’re all humans, and say “hello”. Now if that didn’t turn out great, don’t worry. Go talk to someone else. You will find good company. Put these tips into practice and let us know how they helped you make a friend. I can’t wait to hear your friendship story!