Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.
Having a strong support network of friends, trusted co-workers, and esteemed peers is an important part of creating health, wealth, and happiness in your life. But we live such hectic lives these days. How do we find time to go out and make new friends
For some people, making new friends isn’t hindered by busy schedules. The cost of finding enjoyable social activities that don’t break the bank is the big challenge. Then there are people who are just plain shy and introverted; they want to create a network of satisfying friendships for themselves, but they don’t know where to begin. Thankfully, finding inexpensive and authentic ways to make new friends is easier than you think.
Check out this list of affordable, community-minded activities that can help you get started on making new friends and feeling good about yourself.
1. Make new friends by visiting your local library and attending a free workshop or seminar. I was at the library one day, reading a stack of my favorite magazines when an announcement came over the PA system that a craft workshop was about to begin: “No supplies or skills needed. Just stop by the third floor.” I had a wonderful time that afternoon making fridge magnets and bookmarks and getting to know a few of my fellow library patrons. I enjoyed meeting the workshop facilitator.
2. Meet up with other creative people and find friends who like the same hobbies as you. If you want to break out of a creative rut and make new friends, you could join a knitting or sewing circle. These types of social clubs are usually advertised in yarn and fabric stores. Learning how to sew your own clothes or make lovely knitted gifts is a great way to save money on gift-giving, too. Meeting up on a regular basis with other artists and crafters will help keep your creative juices flowing. Being around other artists can also keep you motivated to complete projects that you might otherwise abandon. In many ways, having friends with common goals and interests helps keep you accountable for achieving your creative goals.
3. Become an afternoon Do-It-Yourselfer! If you don’t have time to take up a new hobby, but you think you might enjoy a social afternoon of creative fun, you could simply visit your local big-box craft store and sign up for one of their how-to workshops. The workshop fee is usually waived if you buy the supplies from the store, which are usually discounted in hopes that you’ll fall in love with the craft and decide to buy stash of new craft supplies. What I like about sitting in on these workshops is that by the time I’m done, I've made a cute little gift I can give to a friend or family member. If bigger, DIY handyman projects are your thing, many big-box hardware stores also offer free workshops. You can learn how to make a planter box, fix the plumbing in your spare bathroom or install a garage door system.
You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
— Winnie the Pooh
4. Speak up and speak out! Participating in a protest, march, or rally for a cause you strongly believe in is a great way to meet people who share common values. Psychologists in Germany have found that people who get involved in social justice projects live happier, richer, more fulfilling lives. Malte Klar, a practicing psychologist in Germany, and Tim Kasser, professor at Knox College, found a connection between an individual’s level of political activism and their sense of well-being. The study claims that even a small level of engagement with political activism can boost one’s sense of self-esteem and connectedness.
5. Enroll in a sports program at your local community center. Programs at community centers are generally much more affordable than sports and recreation programs put on by private companies, gyms, and athletic clubs.
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6. Reach out to your favorite businesses. Another way to find friends who share common interests is to get to know the owners of a business that you enjoy dealing with. Is there a local coffee shop that you enjoy visiting on a quiet Sunday morning? Does the owner of the health food store where you buy your free range eggs offer you exceptional service and product advice? The fact that you already love the products or services they offer is a great way to strike up a conversation and get to know new people.
7. Join a public speaking club if you want to overcome shyness and make new friends. If you want to overcome your shyness in a safe, supportive environment, consider joining a club like Toastmasters International. You’ll meet new friends, expand your professional network and build your self-esteem by working through a variety of fun and challenging speaking projects. Membership fees in Toastmasters vary but usually cost about $100-$150 per year. If you own your own business, do freelancing work or work from home, the annual membership fee can be used as a tax-deduction and help you save money on your taxes at the end of the year.
8. Start a book club or join an existing one. Your local library can provide information and resources on local reading clubs or show you how to start one of your own. Book clubs hosted at your library usually keep a large inventory of a book club selections on hand so that club members can have free access the books. With a bit of planning, second-hand books stores or used books on Amazon can also be a great place to buy your books on a tight budget.
9. Be a good neighbor. Get out and meet your neighbors if you want to make new friends. Organize a neighborhood event such as a block party, a group garage sale or a litter pick-up day.
10. Organize a feast for new friends. If you work in a large office with multiple departments, ask your boss if you can organize a potluck lunch on a relaxed Friday. This is a great way to meet people who work in the same office as you but whom you never get a chance to spend time with. Potluck lunches are a great way to make connections by sharing recipes, telling stories, and participating in ice-breaker games.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
— C. S. Lewis
How can you tell if you are shy or just introverted?
Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. - Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts.
© 2013 Sadie Holloway