Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
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Advice on being confident when making friends

By ARDEN ARQUETTE | January 30, 2020

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HELENA LOPES/UNSPLASH Arden advises a reader on how they can develop long-lasting and successful friendships.

Dear Arden, 

How can I develop a new friendship without being weird?

– Reader

Dear Reader, My first piece of advice is to not put too much pressure on yourself. A lot of people think that the start of friendships should be intentional (a meet-cute), but honestly, most good friendships start by accident through shared interests or activities. With my best friends, I can barely even remember how we met. It was a variety of clubs, organizations, classes, my sorority, at parties or through mutual friends. 

That being said, if you want to make new friends, you do need to get out of your bubble to a) start being around other people more or b) start talking to new people. One great way to make new friends is to meet them through shared interests.

Join clubs that interest you. Maybe ones where you have to partner up with people or work together in a group. I made some good friends through mixed martial arts. Any sports clubs can be a great place to meet friends. 

Meet people in your classes. Just start talking to people — it’s not weird! Sit with peers, ask them if they’re in your year. Ask what their major is, where they’re from, if they are liking your mutual class. If it’s meant to be, then the conversation will just flow.

I have definitely just started to talk to people in some of my classes, which can be nerve-wracking at times, but think about flipping the tables: If someone started talking to you in class, would you be glad they’re talking to you? Or would you be weirded out? 

Meet people in your organizations. If you have always wanted to be a psychologist, join a hotline on campus or APTT! If you are a pre-med, join HERO! If you care about climate change, join SHIP!

It can sometimes be tough to meet people through general body meetings, so consider joining committees or an executive board. Again, working together with people for a common goal (with more quantitative measures of achievement through executive board roles) can help you forge great bonds. 

Through all of these activities though, just be yourself! If your new “friend” thinks you’re being weird, then they’re not your friend. If you can’t be weird around your friends, they are not your real friends, and they are really more of an acquaintance at that point. An important distinction to make here is between a friendly acquaintance and a good friend. You never really know who is going to be a friend or just an acquaintance until you start spending time with them.

And it’s okay if someone ends up just being an acquaintance; you can’t force chemistry, and if after spending some time together, they don’t feel like a friend, then that’s okay too.  

One way I have found myself breaking down the barrier between acquaintance and friend is by allowing myself to be vulnerable. 

How someone responds to my vulnerability can be very telling when it comes to figuring out whether someone will become a close friend (who is worth investing my precious time in) or just an acquaintance. 

Through all new forging of relationships and breaking down barriers, remember to have your own standards. Sometimes I have wanted friends so badly that I overlook major things by justifying them as smaller flaws.

Remember that you want healthy, strong relationships, and that you are someone worthy of great friendships. Do not settle for unhealthy (meaning people that leave you anxious, insecure or who are uncompromising). It is better to have a handful of good friends than tens of bad ones.

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