Moving to a new city can be overwhelming. The thought of adjusting to an unfamiliar environment, leaving friends and family to go somewhere you don’t know what will lead to, adjusting to a new job, new people, maybe even a different language and culture can be so scary. To many it becomes so paralyzing that they end up staying where they are. Which I fully understand and respect:
“I don’t know anyone out there, my family and friends are here, I’m gonna be awkward, they’re not gonna like me, I’m not gonna make any friends. I’m gonna be alone and terrified under my blanket. I’ll die alone and noone will ever find my decaying body”.
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. And trust me when I say that you’ll be more than okay. You just need to find your people.
Here are 10 things to remember when meeting new people in a new city:
Ever heard the quote: “Be yourself, so the people who are looking for you can find you”?
A simple and important concept that can be extremely hard to follow. It’s in our DNA to try and adapt socially as much as we can, so we don’t get abandoned or left by our wolfpack and peers. We say what we think they want us to say, do what we think they want us to do, instead of staying authentic and true to who we truly are.
I’m not saying “Throw your most controversial opinion at the first person you see”, but don’t be afraid to show people who you are.
2.a “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
This one happens a lot in LA – a city where everyone is some sort of “someone” according to IMDB, LinkedIn or Instagram. If you happened to wake up as a human today rather than as a SuperStar in a fur-coat, lots of people walk into a social setting, worried about not being good enough, cool enough, rich enough, pretty enough or interesting enough.
So they frantically start a convincing process. They name-drop. Refer to all the cool jobs they’ve booked, how much money they have, how many followers or likes or dates they have or which celebrity they know and just had dinner with.
To put it in a very LA way: “People don’t f*ck with that, bro”. Insecurity is loud. Confidence is quiet. And 9/10 times only talking about yourself throws people off. Just see what happens if you ask questions, let people talk and get to know them.
It’s so hard building a connection with literally anyone if you’re focused on a specific outcome of the conversation. Presence is everything.
2.b On the other side – don’t be afraid to also talk about yourself
I often found myself in a place where I wanted others to feel so comfortable with me that I asked them 1 billion questions about their lives. I didn’t think that what I’ve experienced and my story was entertaining to others to hear about. Also I didn’t wanted to come across as a narcissist.
But people do want to hear about your life, they just don’t know anything about you so obviously they can’t ask that specific question that would bring out your favorite childhood memory or that funny drunk-in-Ibiza story you have. So you gotta help them a little.
It’s necessary to share who you are to make people connect with you.
3.”Yes, I’d L-O-V-E to go to 80’s karaoke with you”
Ever watched the Jim Carry movie “Yes man”? No? Maybe you should! When people at your new job ask you to go to a karaoke bar, what do you say? You say yes. I don’t care if you like karaoke. I cannot stand karaoke. It’s the worst. But I’ll rather rap the first verse of “Nicki Minaj – Superbass” than missing out on an opportunity to be social when I don’t know anyone.
You don’t have to know anything about football to go to your neighbours SuperBowl party. Maybe you prefer to work out alone, but if your local barista invites you to hot yoga on Sunday – you gotta go with the opportunities that present themselves in the beginning!
UNLESS it’s toxic people who are pressuring you to do drugs or rob a bank or smoke or cross your boundaries in any unhealthy way. Then you obviously say no and return to the first bullet in this article.
4. Meet New People Through Dating Apps
Dates don’t have to be all serious, romantic and “let me go out there and find the one and only”-vibes, it can literally just be a fun afternoon with new people.
Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Raya – there are lots of apps.
It’s honestly also such a good way to explore a new city, since the locals usually LOVE showing newbies around in their hood. Double dates can be a great group hang too!
5. Activites take off the pressure
I am so extremely fortunate that I’ve always danced wherever I’ve lived no matter if I’ve been located in Beijing, Paris, Copenhagen, New York or Los Angeles, so I’ve always jumped straight into a dance community through the studios I’ve taken classes at.
Not everyone can do that, I know! But what do you like to do? Showing up at the same activities over and over again at the same location will for sure give you the opportunity to run into the same people again and again. Book clubs, fitness classes, yoga, acting classes, learning a new language, volunteering, the local soccer team, pottery, dance, the gym… whatever your hobby is or what you’ve been wanting to try out – go there!
(If you’re a dancer, maybe you need to stay in a Dance Dorm and meet people that way! Read all about the dorms here!)
6. Break the ice, ask a question
This is my all time go-to approach when I want to talk to strangers. If you don’t know how to approach someone, starting off with a question that can’t be answered with a short “yes” or “no” can be a really good way to start a conversation with someone.
“Have you taken this fitness class before? Oh you have! What’s the level usually like?“
“Do you take other classes too? Which ones can you recommend? I’m new here so I’m a bit lost”
Or a compliment followed up with a question: “I LOVE your yoga pants! I’m trying to find stretchy yoga pants like yours, where did you buy them?”
Or: “You’re soooooo good at [whatever activity this person is good at] have you been taking classes here for a long time?” etc. etc. etc.
Right away you can sense if people are talkative and wants to have a conversation to you, but if they don’t they just answer the question and walk away, and you’ll feel less rejected than if you walked up to a stranger like: “HI I AM NEW DO YOU WANT TO GET COFFEE?”. When you’re new to a place you’re already emotionally a little bit out of your comfortzone, so a rejection can hit a little harder. So protect your little heart and ease into these conversations.
7. Consider how much you talk to people back home
I know lots of people who have their best friends where they grew up. I don’t. I talk to my family a lot – but it’s so important to balance being present where you are with talking to people back home.
If you feel homesick, find out if it’s actually helpful to be on FaceTime 4 hours every night or if you need to put more effort into making the new place feel like home.
Yes, that means getting a comfy bed and lighting cute candles, but “home is where your heart is”. And your heart is where your people are, which is why you continuously need to make an effort to build relationships where you are.
(Hey, maybe “Dealing with change – 9 things to remember when feeling overwhelmed” would be helpful to you as well, read here!”)
8. You’re in no rush
Some people meet their best friends in the age of 7. Others find them later in life. Some people have close friends, then they drift apart and they find their soul-mate-friends by 40. We constantly grow in- and outside of our relationships and they take time to build. One lego brick at a time. So don’t expect to find your best friends right away and compare this new woman you just went for coffee with to your high school best friends.
It’s even okay if you don’t have best friends in your new city. Or best friends in a year. Same goes for dating! You can’t rush it and force it. It takes time. Just be brave and put yourself out there.
9. Join different Facebook Groups
I JUST had this chat with a friend the other day – there is a facebook group for ANYTHING in this world. Every single time I’ve been solo traveling I’ve joined a “Foreigners in [insert city]”, where you first of all can ask all the questions about the city and where you can meet new people!
“I am new to the city and don’t know anyone – who wants to go to [insert whatever] with me on Sunday?” is posted 10 times a week.
You’ll be so surprised when you see the amount of feedback you get on a post. People in these groups are especially nice, since they’ve ALL been through what you’re currently going through.
Even if you don’t live in whatever city yet, but just want to one day, it can seriously calm your nerves to join a group. Just take a second to scroll through, and find some comfort in knowing that we’re all just confused little humans trying to make where we live home.
(Read “Solo travel – Why You Should Solo Travel At Least Once In Your Life” here!)
I hope this helped! Go out there and meet new people, you brave little chocolate chip cookie! You totally, totally got this.