I was a military brat. I went to four different elementary schools and three different high schools, in three different states. I had to make new friends as often as I had to buy new shoes. And I absolutely hated it. I resented leaving old friends and going somewhere new, where once again, I was alone in the lunch room and hallways until I figured out who “my people” were. I thought moving and making new friends was the worst part of my life and the thing that would forever scar me.  

The funny thing is, now that I’m older I’m very grateful for having to learn to make friends at a young age. Moving didn’t just teach me how to make new friends. It taught me how to find the right friends.

Friends are people who you end up spending a significant amount of time with. They are people who will have a lot of influence over you. People who will provide direction in your life, whether you know it or not. Friends have a large impact on where you end up in life and how you live your life. Various studies have shown that people are likely to start acting like those they are surrounded by. It’s important not only to be able to make new friends, but to make ones that will inspire you and challenge you to become who you want to be! If you have just started a new job, moved into a new neighborhood, or are in some other way faced with finding new friends, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

First, be sure you know what your priorities in life. Pick your top three. Your relationship with God? Being physically fit and healthy? Music? Kids? A particular fight or passion? What are your hobbies and the things you care the most about? The people you decide to spend time with should have these same values, at least in part. You may never find someone who is a complete match, but your friends should encourage you and respect your life’s ambitions. On the flip side, know what you just won’t deal with. What are some qualities people have that you just don’t need in your life? It’s ok to avoid spending a lot of time with people who have these qualities. 

Second, don’t be in such a hurry to be besties with everyone you meet. Take your time and observe people. Try to determine what they value and if their values match yours and those that you are striving for. For a long time, I needed to be friends with everyone I worked with. It took a while for me to realize that not everyone is made to be friends and that having a friendly co-worker relationship with people was enough! I didn’t need them all to be at my next dinner party. 

Third, don’t be afraid to ask people to hang out. It can seem really intimidating, especially when you come into a new place where everyone else has established friendships. You could ask them to go to coffee, have a kiddo (or doggie) play date, or check out a new restaurant. Most people welcome new friendships and networking opportunities. 

Fourth, you may need to have several different sets of friends to be sure you are satisfying all your friendship needs! I have awesome friends who I love very much. But I’m currently on the hunt for friends to scuba dive with since it’s more fun with people you know and trust! 

Making new friends can be challenging, especially when you want to be sure they will support you in what you believe in. But we all need friends. We need people to socialize with, the vent to, to celebrate with, and to encourage us. Spend some time to make sure your new friends are friends worth having!