Where to Find Friends: 4 Perfect Places to be Social

You know what you’re looking for in a friend. You want someone who is excited to spend time with you, who shares your interests and gets your jokes. You’re willing to make an effort to show your friend that he/she matters. The only problem is…you’re not sure where to find this friend.

A friend should be someone in your own age group. It should be someone who has things in common with you. And you should be able to connect with a potential friend in a setting where you can be yourself, and strike up some great conversations. Drawing a blank on a place that fits the bill? Consider these suggestions:

The School Cafeteria: We get it. The cafeteria can be a scary place, especially if you don’t have a usual group to sit with. But if you give it a chance, the cafeteria can be the perfect spot to start building friendships. Begin by choosing the right table. You want to look for people you recognize, and keep in mind that small groups are better. If you sit with a crowd, you could get lost in the shuffle, and have a harder time joining conversations. Notice a kid from your bus sitting by himself? Spot a group of girls you know from class? Ask politely if you can sit with them. If there’s already a conversation in progress, listen politely, and ask questions to show your interest. It may feel a little awkward at first, but the more time you spend at this table, the more comfortable you’ll feel with your potential new friends.

Elective Classes: If your school offers electives such as art, music, or computer classes, then you have easy access to people who share your interests. You all signed up to take the class, which pretty much guarantees you have something in common! Of course, you still have to obey the classroom rules, and stay focused on the day’s lesson. But when an opportunity to collaborate on a project arises, take it. Ask a classmate for an opinion on your work, or for their help mastering a certain skill. It can be difficult to have an in-depth conversation in the classroom, but if you seem to be connecting well, you can walk to your next class together, or look for one another in the cafeteria.

After-School Clubs: Extracurriculars are an awesome place to get to know potential friends. The other participants share your interest. The setting’s a little more laid-back than the classroom. And you’re guaranteed to see the same group of people each time the activity meets. If you need ideas for a club or team to join, you could try talking to a parent or guidance counselor. If there are no fitting activities offered through your school, you may be able to find something around the town, like a pottery painting class, or a book club. With a little effort, you should be able to find a group of people who love what you love, and are more than happy to strike up a conversation about it!

Volunteer Organizations: Consider volunteering on the weekends, or after school. There are tons of organizations that could use an extra set of hands, and one of them is bound to spark your interest. Once you get some hours scheduled, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to know the other volunteers. You may even find that you’re meeting people from other towns, and other schools. Once you get to know each other better, you can start scheduling the same volunteer hours, or carpooling if you live near each other. As an extra bonus, you’ll feel good, knowing you helped an important cause!

Of course, there are plenty of places to connect with a potential friend, which aren’t included on this list. That’s the exciting thing about making friends. It can happen anywhere-even places you don’t expect! That’s why it’s important to stay open, and friendly, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. You never know when you’re going to find that perfect friend you’ve been looking for!

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More