Having grown up as an “expat brat”, it’s been interesting transitioning to “expat wife” – a lot of the situations I’ve encountered in my adult expat life are merely reenactments of similar situations that my mother went through during our time in Calgary and Singapore. Chief among these is learning (relearning?) how to make friends…and making friends as an adult is definitely a different experience than that of a student/child. Obviously making friends as an adult is not an exclusively expat experience/skill (side note, please google “how to make friends as an adult”, and don’t mix it up and accidentally google “how to make adult friends”…probably not what you’re looking for…), but expats are absolutely thrown into the deep-end, and many times it’s sink or swim.
Bottom line: making friends as an adult can be hard. And awkward.
Disclaimer: Being a parent can sometimes make making new friends as an adult much easier – you have a common ground with that kiddo – whereas I would just be that creepy 27 year old, sans child, at the playground. 😉 This is not a “woe is me” post though! I’m just saying to all you mamas out there, use that bambino to your advantage! There are plenty of mom groups, especially in expat groups abroad, and that’s a great outlet for entertainment for children and parents alike. (That being said, the American Women’s Club of Perth has a moms group, and they couldnt be more welcoming to even the childless! Though I consider our dog my child, but whatever.)
Yall – in college (and as a child, as Jerry Seinfeld in the above video can attest) it was SO easy, right?? You live in a dorm with tons of other people your age, you’re trapped on a campus together literally 24/7, and despite my lamentations to the contrary at the time, you have more free time than you know what to do with. I also find that as an adult, I’ve become much more introverted and, well, lame – I like to watch Netflix (or Masterchef) and have a nice glass of vino on my couch – not exactly conducive to socializing/friend-making (I did tell you that I’m an introvert at heart, didn’t I?)
Making friends as an adult truly is like dating all over again: you’ve got to make the effort, and yes, sometimes it’s awkward, doesn’t work out, isnt a good fit. That’s okay…I like to think that’s natural.
That being said, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and try something new or out of your comfort zone. For example, I went to a bloggers seminar a few weeks ago and met two really great women with whom I keep in touch with on a regular basis. My mom took up bridge when we lived abroad growing up, and while maybe she’s not besties with everyone she played with, she met a good network of people and learned something new that she still uses today. These kinds of things also give you a common ground with other adults – it’s not a forced situation.
But I think the most important aspect of making friends as an adult is that you should always try to remember how you felt trying to foster new friendships/acquaintances and warmly welcome new people, really making that effort – it comes backs to you tenfold. There’s a super-expat (looking into trademarking this term…) here in Perth who is quite possibly one of the warmest women I’ve met, always checking in with new expats, organizing fun events; she’s very inclusive and bubbly – that personality and those traits have stuck with me, and I hope to effuse that same energy when I meet and make new friends as well. That’s the golden rule for ya, huh? Expat or not.
There you have it…some deep thoughts for your reading pleasure! 🙂 Until next time…