I have no one to spend summer break with… how do I make friends?

how to make new friends
Making friends doesn’t always seem like the easiest thing to do, but you’d be surprised by how quickly it can happen once you put a little more effort into it. Source: Justin Sullivan/AFP

I’m excited for the upcoming summer break, but I don’t have any friends to spend it with. How can I go about making new friends?

Dear Student, 

First of all, it’s very brave of you to seek out advice on how to make new friends. Making friends doesn’t always seem like the easiest thing to do, but you’d be surprised by how quickly it can happen once you put a little more effort into it. 

More than that, you’re actively taking steps to better your quality of life. Research shows that adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many health problems such as depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). More than that, it’s been proven that older adults with meaningful friendships are likely to live longer than those without. 

How to make new friends

Still, venturing out of your comfort zone is always scary, and making friends is no exception. We understand, but remember: it’s worth the struggle. Besides, who knows — you might end up meeting someone who ends up giving you a lifelong, rewarding friendship. 

With that, here are some tips on how to make new friends in time for the summer:

Adults with meaningful friendships are likely to live longer than those without.
Source: Stefani Reynolds / AFP

Make the first move 

It has to be said: you won’t get anywhere if you stick to your regular habits. Any new or potential friends are around you — you just have to take that first leap. 

If you’re still in school or university and classes are still on, make a conscious effort to talk to your coursemates. It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about — your homework, or the classes you’re taking next semester, or what you’re going to get up to once you get home. Asking someone about their weekend plans is a great way to get some insight into what they’re like as a person. 

Once you have some semblance of a conversation going, keep the ball rolling by expanding on aspects of what they’re saying. Perhaps they’re going to catch a movie over the weekend — ask them what they’ll be watching.

A surefire way to get to know someone is by getting them to talk about themselves; you could continue the conversation by asking about their favourite movie genre, and end up going down a rabbit hole of film-related discussions. Who knows, you might even discover a shared hobby — and, through this, an activity you can enjoy together.

From this, you’ll be able to figure out if they’re a person you’d like to be friends with. This might seem easier said than done, but you’d be surprised by how naturally it will come to you with a little practice. 

Apply for a summer internship or volunteer work

This may seem counterintuitive to making new friends — after all, the nature of internships and volunteering require work and focus. On top of that, joining an internship or a volunteering organisation might mean finding yourself in a situation where everyone else already has an existing group of friends, leaving you the odd one out. But think of it this way: being in a new environment is an opportunity to start anew and meet new people.

Remember that the new people around you don’t know you — and that’s something you can use to your advantage. It doesn’t matter if you feel shy or awkward about your lack of friendships; your new co-workers will be none the wiser. Join in on group outings and ongoing conversations. 

It may take some effort at first — especially if you feel drained by too much social interaction — but once you’re comfortable with your new environment, it might feel less of a chore to strike up conversations with those around you and more of something you’re looking forward to. Plus, you’ll be gaining valuable work experience along the way!

Remember that you shouldn’t be making friends for the sake of it — you should actively search for people who will add value to your life.
Source: by Ben Stansall / AFP

Friendships start with a smile

Think of a teacher or a peer who’s popular among your classmates and friends. Chances are, people gravitate towards them because they’re warm and friendly — helped by the fact that they may smile and maintain eye contact with those they communicate with.

They may also make people feel good about themselves, are genuinely interested in what others say, all of which can make others feel comfortable around them.

So, the next time you speak to someone you’d like to strike up a friendship with, try smiling a little more. Look at them directly when they speak to you. Listen to what they’re saying, and try to add to it if you can. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is.

Be mindful and listen to yourself

All that being said, it’s equally important to pay attention to how the people whom you surround yourself with are making you feel. For instance, making new friends doesn’t mean that you should put yourself in situations that make your skin crawl. For instance, if you’re invited to a house party that’s being attended by lots of people you don’t like, it’s alright to decline.

When meeting new people, take care of your mental health and listen to your gut instincts. If you’re having a conversation with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t force it. There will be others who you’ll get along better with.

Remember: make friends with people who will add value to your life. At the same time, don’t discount the value of short-term friendships. These could be temporary friends who stay in your life for short bursts of time, or someone who’s going to stick by your side for years to come. Either way, both categories will bring important lessons to be learnt — and, with that, give you opportunities to discover for yourself what you want out of a friendship.

We hope this helps you with how to make new friends before the summer break. Good luck!