Takeaway: It's scary putting yourself out there after you leave college. In this post, I'll share some tips so you can feel calm and confident dating, making new friends, and enjoying your social life.
When you’re in your twenties, it’s sometimes hard to know how to put yourself out there. You’re dating, making new friends, figuring out your social life, and navigating college and life after college. I hear a lot from young adults that “putting myself out there is scary.” It can keep you from trying new things or meeting new people. Taking chances by putting yourself out there can be intimidating.
But there are lots of ways to put yourself out there. Yes, it can be scary at first, but it’s an important skill to have as you go through your twenties and figure out who you want to be.
Knowing how to put yourself out there doesn’t have to be a mystery. There are plenty of things you can do, both small and large, to put yourself out there to date, meet new friends, and enjoy a full social life both in and after college.
When you’re in college, it’s easier to meet people to date because you have classes, sports, clubs, and built-in friends who can connect you to some of their friends. You have lots of opportunities to meet people you might want to date.
When you leave college, it gets harder to date. It’s more difficult to meet new people when you’re out of school. It can be hard to find people you’re interested in because once you become an adult, meeting new people gets harder. However, the popularity of dating apps makes it a lot easier to meet people and have a full dating life. Also, don’t be afraid to let your friends set you up with someone new.
Be open to asking someone out, even if you’re afraid they’ll say no. An innocent cup of coffee could lead to more, or at the very least a new connection and maybe even a new friend. Asking someone out on a date might be foreign to you if you’re fresh out of school and are used to organically going out with new people. But it’s a good skill to have as you grow into your twenties.
Don’t be afraid to go on a bunch of dates with different people. It’s ok to go shopping in the dating department a little bit. Find out what kinds of people you like and what you’re looking for in a significant other.
In college, it’s easier to make friends because you’re living with people, there are Greek life, sports, the arts, clubs, and classes. These are all great opportunities to meet new friends organically.
Once you leave college, or if you go straight into the workforce after high school, it gets harder to meet new friends. Just like with dating, you have to be willing to put yourself out there, even in the face of fear of rejection.
As a young adult, you may like to go out to bars and clubs, but it’s hard to make new friends there. Try joining clubs or adult recreational sports leagues – you don’t have to be an athlete to join a league. You could play kickball, bocce ball, table tennis, bowling, or cornhole. There’s a league for everything these days!
If you like quieter hobbies like crafting, knitting, or reading, try joining clubs based on those activities. When you join something like a book club you meet all different kinds of people who share a love of books. Same for crafts or knitting. Sometimes these kinds of clubs can grow into a close-knit group of friends.
Another way to put yourself out there to meet new friends is to try Meetups. Again, this is a great way to meet people who are like-minded. Meetups are a great way to meet new people and make new friends because everyone who shows up is there for the same reason as you are. Often people who join leagues, clubs, or Meetup groups are looking to make new friends too. You’re likely to meet some interesting people who share your interests and who are down to hang out.
When you’re in your twenties, there’s a lot of focus on going out. If you’re a person who thrives in environments with lots of people, don’t be afraid to mix it up and go out with new people as well as existing friends.
If you’re someone who prefers quieter nights in but gets lonely easily, try having wine and cheese nights or game nights with a small group of friends. Make it a regular thing, so you keep your social life growing.
You don’t want to burn out by going out all the time, but it’s important to have a balanced social life. If you’re someone who tends to keep to themselves but wants to be more social, take small steps. Try one new thing or go out to dinner or for a drink or coffee with a friend or two.
To have a balanced social life, try to vary the groups of people you hang out with. If you have a roommate that you get along with, have a night a week where the two of you do something together. If you live alone, with your parents, or don’t get along with your roommate, find people outside of your house to spend your time with.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Have a quiet weekend with a few friends watching the game or a movie, and then maybe one night when you go out.
Be open to new people. Say you want to get a drink with a friend and they want to bring someone along that you don’t know. Be open to that opportunity to meet someone new, even if it means a different experience than your usual time with just that person.
If you’d like to learn more about how therapy can help you learn how to put yourself out there, reach out today (I help teens and young adults in the state of New York). Don't forget to check out my resource "6 Signs That Your Perfectionism is Getting in the Way of Your Happiness" here!
Justine is a licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in White Plains, NY. She helps teenagers, young adults and families struggling with anxiety, depression, family conflict and relationship issues. Justine is also the host of the podcast Thoughts From the Couch.