From when I first decided to move across the country, I knew it was going to be hard! I knew it was going to be a challenge in every aspect of my life but one that had enough potential to outweigh the fears. As much as I tried to prepare myself (mentally, financially, emotionally, etc.) nothing can prepare you for moving away from your loved ones. As an outgoing, social person—family, friends, my social life all meant the world to me. I knew that it was going to be hard to leave them. I knew it was going to be hard to miss out on events, friends’ life milestones, and even lazy Sundays at my parents… but the potential of the opportunities I outweighed all these fears.
“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”
Just like in NYC, making the move to the big city (although the most important step) it isn’t enough to “make it.” Being a transplant resident, it takes more to survive in these cities than just committing to the idea. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve started to see it-see why people don’t always survive.
I learned that leaving my close social circle was so much harder than I could have imagined. The phone, Facetime, even quick weekend trips back-don’t do it justice. While I know I’ll never be able to “replace” those relationships, I still have to find ways to fill the time and people to share experiences with. I am fortunate to have a few really great friends already in Los Angeles, but it’s not fair of me to want to monopolize every second of their time. While I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, finding new friends, building relationships… there’s an art to it and I’m finding I have to get even more creative.
It’s not the easiest city to make new friends. Angelinos have a lot of quirks, some you get used to some that will always surprise me (I always wonder how long it’ll be before I start taking on some of those qualities and there are some I hope I never do.) Almost everyone you meet, is trying to make it in “the industry” (that being entertainment… and I can’t judge, I’m right there with them.) Whether it be acting, music, modeling you name it… Everyone’s trying to follow their passions and make a name for themselves. This is both the best and worst thing about living here. Yes, you never know who you’re going to meet, or who will be able to help you… and then the other side of things is… your only as helpful until you’re not. Angelinos love to meet people, offer their help, and have an amazing conversation… but I’ve learned not to expect a follow up. Everyone is here chasing their dreams, trying to hustle, and EVERYONE has to be picky and choosey with how they spend their time.
I think when people move here their first instinct is to fill all of their time with work and making a living-which I think works great for some people. I’ve been very fortunate to have found a job that allows me to live a substantial part of my life away from work, which in turn leaves me with a lot of time to fill.
“Having free time in LA and deciding HOW and with WHO you’re going to spend it—that’s what I believe is the key to making it here!”
Like I said, I’ve had to get creative with how to make friends and how to fill my free time, thankfully I live in a large city with all the opportunities to do so.
How to Make New Friends
While I don’t have the perfect recipe to lay out for all of you, I have some strategies that have been working and ones I’m excited to try. Making new friends as an adult though is sooooo hard, but we can’t give up on it. I’ve come to accept that everyone else around me is just as busy and in their minds they’re 10x as busy as everyone around them… moral of the story, we’re all busy. With that in mind, if someone cancels plans (while that sucks) I can’t take it personal. I also make a constant effort to not allow myself to cancel plans. If I commit to doing something or meeting someone, I’m going to do whatever it takes to see it through.
When I moved, I immediately began to think about the things that make me feel at home. That give me a sense of a community away from my hometown. My grandpa’s only piece of advice and wish for me was to find a church to attend. He was right. Although I honestly don’t make it every Sunday or as regularly as he had intended, I try to go as long as I don’t have other people inviting me to other plans. (Now I know that’s not a good enough reason to really miss mass, but the point of this is I’m trying to make friend and when friends call, you have to take them up on the opportunities.) It’s a goal of mine however, to continue making it more! Apart from the reasons people go to church, it’s also nice in just how familiar it is.
The next outlet that immediately came to mind is the Moose Lodge (I’ll add that to the list of upcoming blog topics for those of you who don’t know about my involvement with the lodge-so if you’re wondering WTH… just wait and I’ll fill you in!) Moose Lodges are practically everywhere and easy to find, but also I’m well past due for joining (you have to be 21.) While, I can predict that the community will be different from the groups most of my peers associate with, it’s still an amazing community to be a part of and a great way to get to know people that live around you from many different walks of life. I’ve reached out to a few different chapters to investigate which one to join.
Anytime you move somewhere new, reflect on the causes and things that matter most to you. Find an outlet and a group of people you can make a difference with and It’ll make a difference in you. While the people I meet at these outlets might not be the group willing to go to a nightclub with me on a Friday night, they help to feel a sense of belonging.
Naturally, people meet each other at work! Starting a new job somewhere, can be challenging socially at first too, but I just try to stay positive and slowly try to make an effort to connect with people. I’ve often been frustrated at how this doesn’t seem to happen overnight, but very rarely anything ever does. Finding moments to help people enjoy the work day a little more is always nice. Whether you have the means to organize a work outing or a happy hour or even something as simple as leaving a co-worker a note telling them to have a great day… Its these little moments that will eventually turn into friendships!
Finding a club or organization that is associated with your industry or passions is an amazing way to meet like-minded individuals that you know you already have something in common with. The nicest part of these groups is that when you’re a member, generally someone else is planning all the events for you and inviting you to them. Then you can fill your social calendar with as many or as little as you’d like (although I’m a huge believe in go to as many as possible or at least every now and again!) I’m a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and through it I’ve met so many other professionals working in my industry. The group includes a wide range of students to professionals who have been doing this their entire lives. It is also a national organization so not only has it helped me get acquainted in LA, but it was also amazing when I was in Des Moines. They’re events are also great for professional development and making me a better designer, creator, and person.
When living in a city, there’s always so much going on every single night of the week. You can find shows to go to, free lectures, art gallery openings. You name it! While you can’t go to all of them, it’s great to find a variety and know they exist. I sign up for a few different email services that let me know about things that are happening in the area. Ticket services, organizations you’re interested, groups you love are all amazing to sign up for.
Networking events are also huuuuuuge around here. I know networking is one of those things that people cringe at and I feel like that can be because a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves at these types of events. But the key to success at these events is to forget about all those stigmas and ideas around it and go into them with an open mind. Again, it’s about pushing your comfort zone. Wednesday morning, I received an email promoting an event that sounded awesome. Even though it started close to work, I knew I had to go! I live in the land of opportunity and to miss out on opportunities like this, for me, just feels like a waste. Although I had to drive all the way to Venice Beach, it was amazing!!!! The event was called #IMakeALiving and it was a panel discussion and networking event for people who own or are interested in starting their own business or brand. First off, the concept of the event was cool, the content was amazing, but I truly met some amazing people and left the event feeling so inspired. Not to mention I got some free food out of it and even a free glass of wine. It’s been my experience with these events that I’ve never regretted going. Even yesterday as I was getting ready to drive to the event I had a moment of uncertainty, but I forced myself and went for it and I’m so happy I did.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a strong community and enjoy meeting new colleagues, but a strong group of friends my own age is incredibly important, and I’ve been finding I need more. I’m not a homebody—never have been! Every now and then, sure I like to have a lazy day, but more often than not, I’m up to go do something. Finding girlfriends has been the struggle.
When I moved out here, I had so much fun meeting potential roommates, and while none of those situations worked out, it was so great meeting them and I’m hoping we’ll have the chance to get together again sometime. It gave me an idea though… and I’ve heard of other people having success with it too. Using “dating apps” to make new friends. Many of the popular “dating aps” have offered versions of their apps aimed at helping people make friends. I figure, WTH, I’m fine with meeting and getting to know new people and let’s face it, if it could help me find a boyfriend. It’s got to be that much easier to make some girlfriends. So, don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on how that works out!!!
All and all, I’m still so happy. I don’t often find myself feeling too lonely, but I think that’s also because I make such a conscious effort to fill my time wisely. Even when no one else is available to hang out, I’ll find something for just myself to go do. Often times that consists on going to a movie, going for a run, spending the afternoon by the pool, or crossing something off on my Things To-Do list. I truly believe that a strong social circle is the key to finding stability and comfort in a new place and while I know it’s frustrating it doesn’t all just fall into place over night, the journey and struggle is what makes it special!