So it’s been 4 years now I have moved to the UAE from the UK. Although I have lots of family here (albeit inlaws) I have yet to replace good friends from the UK. It’s a hard task to do especially difficult when you don’t work and the only people you meet are passerby type. The friends I have accumulated over the years have pretty much come from school, college, university and then work. Now a stay at home mom, I am not in a scenario where I see people day in day out for long periods of time like I did in other organisations, I feel I’m left to fend for myself. In a country where I didn’t grow up, I don’t have my catalogue of friends that I can just hang with. Another weird realisation was that I hadn’t made much friends from my neighbourhood growing up. I always went to a school that was just enough far away that all my friends lived in a different area code. I only met my friends at school. At college and univeristy again I went to a different city to study and all my friends lived far. Now in my 30’s I’m finding it difficult to just say hey to anyone as I’m not used to just doing that.
Having three kids I’m so much aware of how introverted I am and how much I don’t want my kids to face the same problems I faced or face even now. So I have made up my mind that I will push myself to get out of my comfort zone in a mission to seek meaningful friendships. If you don’t seek you won’t find right?
So here’s my plan of how to make friends when you’re naturally introverted .
1. Go out more regular, to the same places, then you’ll likely to meet the same people who have similar interests to you. E.g.I have started going to the coffee mornings at my daughters school. Although all the moms I meet are not normally people I would hang out with you see familiar faces and you start to build a rapport and soon enough you see them in a different light to than when you first met them.
Also I hang out a lot more in the playground of the school. I used to shoot of home because I had lot more mundane things to do. However now on my self proclaimed ‘bff mission’ I pretend to give my kids more time to play on the jungle gym while I am actually giving more time to myself to get out of my comfort zone and meet more people. I see my kids feeling shy around kids at first, playing around kids, not asking their names, not even saying a word when kids push in front of them and they continue waitting patiently for their turn on the swing. They remind me of myself at that age not speaking up when kids jumped the line. Just after a few extra afternoons spending time there Ive seen such a difference in my kids behaviour. They are more adventurous, taking more risks, going higher and higher up on the gym, they have started to play with kids who they don’t know, have made relationships with older kids and enjoy the experience much more even though its awkward sometimes. They used to always look at me like a safety net, looking at me for my approval at every little step they went higher. Now they’re busy playing and interacting that they don’t even see me or run away from me least they hear me telling them it’s time to go. And me? I’ve made a few friends that I talk to with the extra 20 minutes that I spend at the end of the day. No one is in a rush to get anywhere everyone has their kids playing with each other so we have a common bond. I’ve joined several parents whatsap groups but nothing as satisfying as having a friend who you can talk about anything or nothing about. We mostly talk about kids, struggles of being a mom, the traffic, the weather and homework. So still looking for the one.
2. Get involved in the community, do a fundraiser, collecting clothes, offering your services, get yourself known. People will soon associate you with a friendly face and you are bound to meet like minded people. During Ramadan the Islamic holy month of fasting, I organised a fridge for workers in our community. Labourer where offered to come and pick up free food. The whole community chipped in, it was amazing. This is the kind of people I want to hang out with. People were knocking on my door all throughout the day, asking what was needed,bringing food, new faces, regular faces it was so heartwarming. It was amazing, but after the month had finished, it all kind of fizzled out. Now I can’t wait for next Ramadan for that community feel.
3. Make a group on Facebook just to start with eg book club, moms group, coffee mornings, toddler group, bikers group gardeners group, fitness group walking with your buggy group, whatever interests you and keep it up, turn up at meetings regularly. Swap numbers and there you go. I’ve joined a ton of groups that are local to me and met up women in big groups and on individual level, I found some real friends, so really recommend this.
4. Go to your local park go on regular walks that’s the only way you’ll meet new people who have time on their hands. Strike a conversation and see where it leads you. I take the kids out more regular to the park in our area and they have made so many friends who invite them back to their house and they come over to our house. I’ve made friendships with their moms so win win.
5. Go knock on your neighbours door, introduce yourself if you’re new in the area. Ask any questions you have where’s the nearest…( you fill in the blank) and offer them tea and coffee with them the next day so that’s one friend you’ve made at least. Offer to help them whenever they need anything and you’re as good as gold!
Those are my ideas and so far the joining groups and getting involved in the community has been the most successful for me.
Let me know your ideas and suggestions on making new friends and any problems you have faced when moving into a new city.