When you are all alone, you have to figure out everything for yourself. Sure, your mom or dad are just a call away, but like in my case, how do I call my mom and ask her how to meet people when she still lives in the same city limits she was born in? Any city is what you make of it. I have found some of the lamest cities in the USA to be more fun than the more “fun” cities like NOLA. Like South Bend, Indiana. Don’t ask. I spent the first three month in my new city dating someone still at the university that I graduated from. I had nothing keeping me in Milwaukee so I left every other weekend (sometimes more) to go see him. Distance wasn’t someone he wanted to do and we mutually agreed that it wasn’t working. So I went from happy in my hometown with a boyfriend to single in a new city with no one. I got a cat, which helped a ton because my cat is the bomb, but she’s not the best at offering advice or talking back. I needed human friends. I only worked with one other person that wasn’t married and in at least their 50s. He was definitely out of the question the moment I asked where I good place for margaritas was and he just muttered “I don’t know” and we didn’t speak for two days after that. It was rough. A girl couldn’t even get a margarita (don’t worry, I figured it out eventually. If you’re wondering, its a place called El Beso). Being the millennial that I am, I turned to google. I searched for random things like “living in a new city” and “where Illinois people hang out in Milwaukee” and found Meetup.
Meetup.com is where you can search your area for different interests you have and join groups that cater towards meeting people around them that they would have a lot in common with. They have special groups for people living in a new city.Here is where I tell you something I am very embarrassed about. I found a meetup that was all about people that were new in town and there was a happy hour that people were having an event at. I got off of work and drove 30 minutes to the bar. I was SO nervous because even though I was desperate to meet people, I didn’t know how to just start a conversation with a stranger. I walked in, wrote my name on a nametag and walked in. Everybody was already in conversation and I didn’t know the proper way to just jump in and I just felt like that would be rude. I walked right through the room and exited out the side door, got back in my car and drove 30 minutes home. I kept looking at Meetups and just felt like if I could just walk in the room and find someone my age that wasn’t already in conversation, I would be just fine. Luckily, there is the ability to message people on meetup if you were in a group together. I had a girl message me and we talked about how awkward it is to go to one of those events and we bonded over margaritas (I hope you’re catching onto a theme in my life) and met up that Friday for drinks. There’s one. It isn’t a lot but I had one friend who I still talk to and meet out every now and then. I wasn’t working hard to hide my loneliness from my Facebook, so my friends knew I was up there and that I was homesick. I got a call from a college acquaintance one Saturday night asking what I was up to. He was originally from the area so I thought he was in town, but was disappointed when he said he was in Minnesota. He asked if I had any plans and I said no. The truth was that I had already cracked open a beer and was in sweats ready to watch the Chicago Blackhawks play in the playoffs at 7:30. My friend told me that I should really consider going out. By myself? On a Saturday when there was hockey on?! This kid was a hockey fan, so I was appalled that he would even suggest that when the Hawks started in 45 minutes! He promised me that I would enjoy it and he knew the bar he wanted me to go to. A place called McGillicuddys and if I had a bad time, he would buy me a drink the next time we saw each other to make up for it. Despite REALLY not wanting to go, I put on a cute top and squeezed back into jeans and headed out. What I saw when I walked in the door changed my life. It turns out that McGillicuddys is an official bar that shows every Chicago Blackhawks game and there was about 50 people in Blackhawks jerseys having a blast with their friends. I snagged the last open seat at the very end of the bar and held back tears as I ordered a Bud Light. Living in a place where normally 90% of the population is wearing your rival football teams merchandise, it saved my life to see all these people repping Chicago. As the Blackhawks kept winning, I kept going back to that bar and met more people. There is nothing like watching your team win a championship, and getting to do so while not just sitting alone in your apartment made it that much sweeter. The way I met some of my friends is in a way that I definitely wouldn’t recommend… tinder. I was on it and met up with some guys for dates and eventually ended up in a relationship with one for a couple months. Shockingly, that didn’t work out. I hope you sense my sarcasm. Now, BumbleBFF is out there and is a great way to find people that are also finding people. It’s pretty lighthearted to just message someone and say “This app is really awkward, but I saw you like ____ and so do I!” Insert whatever you find in common with the other girl. If I ever end up living in a new city, that is definitely the route I am going to take. I think BumbleBFF is a fantastic idea… especially since I was on Tinder to make guy friends. Don’t do that. They end up expecting things and the “I just want to make friends” bit doesn’t work. Unfortunately, the app has a bad stigma and while I am not really friends anymore with anyone I met on there, they did introduce me to their friends and now I’ve built a small, but wonderful group of friends. Not surprisingly for me, they all used to live in Illinois and moved up here for work. If you are living in a new city, my main advice for you is to put yourself out there. If you never go anywhere but work and home… you will not build your network. Sports and drinking is my thing, but if that isn’t yours, think about what is. If you really like running, search for running clubs in your area. If you like cooking, go take a class! Also, don’t forget to reach out to your friends and see if they know anyone that they can set you up on a blind friend-date.