By Rachelle Varon, LCSW-C, Therapy Services
You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that if you’re not from Baltimore, it’s hard to find new friends, a companion and a niche. Does the fact that so many people have that experience make it true? Yes and no. As a transplant myself to this area, my perception is that Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods where people seem to stay put, where generations may live within a block or two of each other. On the other hand, I don’t believe that making new friends as an adult is any more difficult in Baltimore than it is in any big city these days. People are in such a hurry and have so many commitments that we assume that they don’t have time or interest in making a new friend. But I don’t believe this is as common as we think.
So what can you do to get connected? Here are some tips.
Get out of your house/apartment/condo/dorm room. Whether it’s Mr. or Miss Right or your new BFF, they’re not going to come knocking on the door (unless you live in the world of romantic comedies).
Figure out what interests you and find others who might share that interest:
- Take a class at the JCC, the senior center, the community college, a university or cultural institution, the nearby dance studio.
- Go to a lecture, a performance, an exhibit, a coffee shop, library, or bookstore.
- Join a book club, a theater group, a religious congregation, a professional organization.
- Volunteer for a community activity: staff the phones for a fund drive, help build a house, set up a community garden. Even if you don’t find that special friend, you’re involved in doing something meaningful to help others.
- Check the free newspapers, the Sun, the internet, local TV to find out what’s going on around town.
Smile and say hello. Don’t wait for the other person to initiate; ask a question, make conversation, even if you’re never going to see the person again. We all appreciate a smile.
- Look for other transplants to Baltimore. They will probably be as eager as you are to make a new friend and learn what our community has to offer.
- Reach out to people you already know. Spontaneity is fun at times, but don’t rely on it. Don’t wait until the last minute to make plans with people or you may be spending more time alone than you want to.
- Challenge the belief that you can’t have fun if you do something on your own. It’s sometimes easier to make a new friend when you go someplace alone because you are more open to meeting people and talking to someone who doesn’t know you. If you’ve enjoyed the interaction, see if the person is interested in getting together again
- Challenge the belief that you need to have a lot of money. An advantage of living in a big city is that there is always something to do that is free. Take a bus, split the gas, go after lunch and before dinner. There are many ways to have fun on a limited budget..
We all need companionship and we all need to feel part of a community. If you are new to the area, a great resource is Shalom Baltimore. Whether you’ve recently moved here or are newly on your own, making the effort to get out and involved is worth it. Before long, you will feel you “belong” and will discover new friends, interests, and experiences.
By Rachelle Varon, LCSW-C, Therapy Services, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
Jewish Community Services professionals offer counseling, support and many other services to help you solve life’s puzzles. Call 410-466-9200 or visit our website, www.jcsbaltimore.org.