Auntie SparkNotes: I'm So Lonely in My New City
Dear Auntie SparkNotes,
I'm a 22-year-old girl who just graduated from college. I broke up with my boyfriend on the day before the graduation ceremony, for personal reasons. We decided not to remain friends because we still have romantic feelings for each other, so we haven't been in touch.
Now that college is over I have moved away to a big city and I'm living with my grandmother until I can afford an apartment. I have a part- time job assisting elderly people in their homes.
I know that I should be grateful to have a job right out of college but I'm not. I miss my ex-boyfriend like crazy and everyday I'm tempted to call him. I'm terrified that I'll never find love ever again.
More important than that though is the fact that I don't have any friends in my new city. All of my college friends have grown up and moved to different parts of the country. Most days I just go work, assist various senior citizens, and then go home and watch TV on my grandmother's couch. It's been weeks since I've had a conversation with anyone under the age of 80. I wish that I had people my age to go and visit on my days off, but I don't know anyone in this city besides my grandmother.
Auntie, what can I do to make friends in this new city? I feel so lonely right now. Will I ever meet people my own age, or am I destined to spend my life with only elderly people for companionship?
Awww, but would that be so bad? Elderly people need friends, too! Plus, they always have cool stories about what it was like back in the dark ages, when men wore hats and ladies wore pantyhose and phones had to be plugged into the wall.
...Of course, I'm just kidding. And really, as nice as it is to pal around with octogenarians, you definitely can and should make a few friends your own age— if only because octogenarians eventually become nonagenarians, who eventually become centenarians, who eventually become... well, dead people. And in addition to being depressing as hell, having to replace your social circle every several years when your elderly pals get too old and shuffle off this mortal coil sounds like an awful lot of work.
The good news is, forming a new social network a totally normal and totally overcome-able challenge that tons of recent grads have to deal with. And for that reason, there are all kinds of outlets available for you to start connecting with people. Meetups, adult kickball leagues, volunteering, music groups, book clubs, young professional organizations, community gardens, fitness classes, crafting circles, trivia nights; the list is virtually endless. Whatever it is you enjoy doing, or want to learn how to do, the city you live in is bound to offer ways for you to do that thing with other people—some of whom you'll hit it off with well enough to spark a friendship or two. In your case, you might also want to consider picking up a second paid gig—even if it's just a few hours a week—at a place where your coworkers and clientele aren't quite so old, which not only provides you the opportunity to meet people but will also speed up your money-saving schedule so that you're able to move out of Chez Grandma and into your own pad. (And that, too, will open up a whole new set of social possibilities, particularly if you choose to live with roommates.)
To be clear, this isn't a recipe for insta-friends; even once you're out and about in places where potential friends can be found, you're building relationships from scratch, and that takes time. But if you choose an activity or a class or a volunteering opportunity that you're interested in anyway, there are some equally valuable things that you'll get right away: namely, the sense of purpose and community that comes from having somewhere to be and something to do. And as these things go, there's no better way to give your loneliness a swift kick in the pants.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.