If you’re looking to meet new people, the most common advice you’re likely to receive is to “join.” Sign up for mixers! Go to a meetup! Enroll in a class! Before I knew any better, I doled out said advice on my very own blog.
Now I know better.
It’s not that joining is a bad idea, but the advice is misleading. It’s only half the story. A more appropriate suggestion would be to “Join a [insert activity here].” Because you can’t sign up for just anything. At least not if you want to meet people quickly. Some activities don’t lend themselves to interaction. Take my Cardio Hip Hop class. I relished the hour I spent dancing and sweating, but the class consisted of showing up, learning a routine, and leaving. There was no partner boogie or getting-to-know-you games. To meet someone I’d have to do the work myself, and avoiding that work is precisely why I signed up in the first place.
If I’m paying to join something with the primary goal of meeting people, I want someone else to do the introduction legwork. So no, Cardio Hip Hop is not the perfect option for meeting new people. Nor is yoga.
You know what is? Improv.
Yup, that’s right. I’m taking an improv class. I’m pretty embarrassed to share this since I’m not a performer. I can come up with a witty one-liner…sometimes…but when it comes to creating and inhabiting another character? Not really my thing. A few weeks ago I was given an action and emotion: “You’re raking leaves, and you’re feisty,” my teacher said. “And no talking. Go.” Um, have you ever tried to silently rake leaves fiestily? Surprise! I wasn’t very good at it. Whatever. I get to play make believe for 2.5 hours and it’s the perfect forum to make new friends because I’m forced to open up, embrace the ensemble, and get to know my classmates.
Never in a million years would I have taken an improv class if I wasn’t dedicated to this search. Just thinking about it makes me awkward. But after two people said I had to try it, I did. Often it’s not so much about signing up for what you love as it is joining that which you’re willing to try and will force you to interact with other human beings.
Another common “joining” suggestion is religious groups. I’m Jewish, but I wouldn’t count myself as religious. I’m nervous that my presence at a Jewish mixer would be suspect. Like Hugh Grant in About a Boy when he joins a single parents support group to meet hot moms, even though he has no kids. I mean, I am Jewish, so I wouldn’t be lying, but is there a code of honor that says showing up solely to meet new people is wrong? Shouldn’t I care more about the subject matter?
So yeah, joining’s great in theory. In practice, it’s complicated. You’ve got to be picky about where you allocate your precious time if making new friends fast is the end goal.
Any activity suggestions for the aspiring friender? An unexpected-but-awesome tip that came my way lately is Roller Derby. Now that would be badass.
Read more about new Oy! blogger Rachel’s quest to meet her new BFF.