By BENEDICT ESPOSITO, Special to the Bulletin | Published March 31, 2022
Making friends is hard. Making friends as a young adult is even harder.
In high school, you are forced to be around the same people for eight hours a day, which to be fair can be both good and bad.
In college, everyone is in the same boat in terms of trying to make new friends, and schools have plenty of activities to help you meet new people outside of classes, often through clubs and organizations like Campus Catholics or intermural sports.
Once you graduate and officially become a young adult though, it is you and literally millions of other people of all ages in different stages in life. You leave the little world your school provides and have to fend for yourself socially.
Often times in Georgia, it is common that at least a few friends from your school wind up working somewhere around metro Atlanta. However, Atlanta is not a small college town like Athens, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Statesboro or Milledgeville. Being an 18-year-old, pie-in-the-sky freshman who does not even start pre-gaming (excuse me, “getting ready to go out”) until 11 p.m. was one thing. Being a young adult with responsibilities and trying to juggle making your way professionally and finding social activities is another.
You try to hold onto your college friends and while initially it may work, there already are not a lot of people from your inner circle within driving distance. So what do you do? Where do you go to find like-minded people?
What I recommend to do is get involved with an active Catholic young adult group and offer to do take on some kind of role. There are several groups around metro Atlanta.
We all want friends and need friends. We are social creatures. However, you cannot pray in church for friends to just appear. You have to put yourself out there, go up to people and ask questions to get to know them. Yes, prayer is a crucial component, but it is important to remember God gives you the tools and it is up to you to use them.
When I graduated from Georgia College in 2015, I moved back to Atlanta. While looking for full-time work, I was balancing two jobs, working with facilities at an elementary school and as a guest ambassador (and later Polar Bear team member) at the World of Coke.
Working in hospitality means you work when other people don’t—on weekends and holidays. And during the week, MARTA would get me home around 7:30 p.m. It was not a very conducive schedule to make new friends outside of work. I know I’m not the only young adult who had this schedule problem.
It was not until I got a new job, my first one where I did not have to clock in and out, that I could think about trying to make new friends.
Some of the few college friends I still saw occasionally were involved in the Cathedral of Christ the King’s 20/30 Somethings Young Adult Group.
Being alone at an event where you do not know anyone can be awful to say the least. You feel like a complete fish out of water. One of the most nerve-wracking moments is walking up to a group to start a conversation where you know no one.
The alternative is to go off to the side and revert to the default option of taking out your phone and just waiting for something to happen. You are there at the event, but not engaging, just waiting for it to be over. Before I went off to college, I actually spoke with a teacher of mine about how to avoid that. I was legitimately afraid I would do that, something so many of us are now wired to do.
I figured the best way to avoid that is to have a job to do. I emailed a group leader and asked how I could volunteer and was placed as a greeter at its monthly Pack the Cathedral in August 2017. Having worked in customer service, interacting with people walking up to me was not challenging.
I also signed up to be on 20/30 Somethings intramural softball team, despite my athletic abilities being almost non-existent.
Signing up to have an active role and playing on a team forced me out of my comfort zone and to interact with other people. This gave me many of the friends I have today.
Editor’s Note: For information on young adult communities within the Archdiocese of Atlanta, visit https://generationatl.org/communities/.