I stood in front of my closet trying to come up with the most flattering (but which I felt most comfortable in) outfit. I applied my makeup as slowly and carefully as possible. I practiced my smile. Lean to the right, and cheeeeeeese. I fluffed my hair to make it as elegantly disheveled as possible. Voila!
I was having a blind date with a group of strangers. A group of women, in fact.
And no, I was not going out on the town in search of a new boyfriend with a bunch of women. I also wasn’t trying to date a woman. However, I was looking to make a friend, or two.
I knew that the hardest thing for me moving to a new city wasn’t about not knowing anyone. (It’s actually quite exciting at times.) Nor, was it finding an apartment or a job. But rather, the actual act of going out and making the attempt to meet people, whom I could eventually call a friend.
To me, it feels just like dating and I absolutely hate it. Why? I’m an introvert. Naturally, I’m bad at it. I’m quite shy, until I have had two beers. Otherwise, I am listener. I’m self-conscious, until I have had three beers. Otherwise, I am worried about what others are thinking about me, which results in me just listening and not talking. And like dating, I constantly ask myself while I look at a large group of laughing friends, “Where the hell do I meet people, dammit?!”
Most people my age probably aren’t even asking the aforementioned question. They have already done this: moved away from home and made a crap load of new friends. I didn’t. Inevitably, my high school social network got smaller and smaller over the years until I was down to less than a handful of friends who I would see on a regular basis. Unless, of course, I had a boyfriend at the time. I (regretfully) attended college locally and commuted to school. I never lived in a dorm. I never attended school events or clubs or whatever it is that school spirited college students did to make friends. But I didn’t really care about meeting people either. I did, however, manage to make one college friend throughout the years.
In theory, moving to Portland was my college experience that I missed out on. I knew that moving here would be healthy for me. It would help me step outside of my comfort zone and make friends, who are like-minded. Or if I don’t, I am fairly certain I will be the lonely and crazy cat woman at the age of 22. (Well, 23 at the end of the month.)
I’m getting antsy for new people in my life. I see herds, yes, herds of people having a jolly time out on the town, and I want that, especially in this place I am starting to fall in love with. It’s the one thing I am missing in my life right now. (Besides my mother, of course.) Some yearningly look at couples holding hands, and while yes I do want that at times, I have never wanted a large group of friends more than ever. And this is coming from someone who appreciates quality over quantity.
And so I went where any other desperate woman looking to meet someone would go to: the internet. Google is great. I simply typed into the search bar: “Where to meet people in a new city?” 327,890 hits. Really? It’s that easy?
Days later, I was getting ready for my first meet up with a bunch of strangers to have drinks in downtown. I didn’t make a best friend that night, but I did the first step in friendship dating: I got myself out there. People other than my roommate know of my existence in this city.