Friendship is hard: finding new friends, maintaining relationships, and navigating conflict are all difficult tasks. There’s no way around this fact.
Especially as a 20-something, making friends seems harder and harder as responsibilities grow and free time shrinks. But another thing is undeniably true: friendship is worth the struggle. We are made for connection.
I think the quality of our friendships can often be traced to the quality of the time we spend together. As we get older, friendship can sometimes be crammed into the space of lunch breaks or evening dinner plans. While there’s nothing wrong with these things, they don’t really build the kind of memories that lead to rich connections.
As kids, we inherently knew this. We rode bikes with our friends, became mini entrepreneurs with thriving lemonade stands, and went on long adventures in our neighborhoods. As adults, our relationships center more around good conversation than the activities we do together. We need people we can discuss ideas with and people that can join us on active adventures. The richest friendships contain both ingredients.
Here are some ideas to bring creativity to your friendships:
TOUR YOUR OWN CITY
Instead of going to your favorite lunch spot, look up popular activities in your town. No matter where you live, chances are there is a tourist attraction within a day’s drive that you (or your friend) may have never visited.
When friends share fundamental values, they share a common bond that’s deeper than gossip or mutual friends. Google nonprofits in your town and choose one whose mission resonates with you.
FIND AN EVENT OR CLASS TO DO TOGETHER
Maybe you want to learn how to cook, have been dying to try goat yoga, or have been thinking of renting a plot in your local community garden. Learning a new skill or laughing your way through a yoga class might be the ticket to forging a lasting relationship.
PLAN A TRIP SOMEWHERE NEW
A friend of mine says that the best way to fast-track a friendship is to travel together. Travel not only forms beautiful memories, but it brings together the good and the bad: being stuck in a car together, learning who is a morning person and who is not, and trying not to get lost on the way to your Airbnb. Trips don’t have to be extravagant to be wonderful.
Even in friendship, we can get stuck in a rut and start to feel the relationship become mundane. Rich connections are formed when we build them on adventure, on shared values, and on vulnerability. Have the courage to try something new with a friend. Even if you find that it’s not your cup of tea, at the end of the day, you’ll have a great story to tell.