For some, making friends and connections comes naturally. For others, it’s the exact opposite. It can be fun, exciting, nerve-wracking, awkward, or most likely all of the above! Just last week I experienced all of these feelings. All 220-some interns (give or take) are living together for 10 weeks and we moved in last weekend. Quite literally, there was a sea of interns swimming and mingling about when we attended a welcome dinner the night before our first day. For me, making friends has always been a fairly easy task. I love to meet new people and learn about where they come from, what their family is like, what their hobbies are, etc. This time I definitely had some more nerves running through my system, but they were the good nerves caused by pure excitement. Many of the other interns came from other parts of the country to spend their summer working and living in Milwaukee, and I can only imagine how they felt! Being in my home state and only a short drive from home, I had it pretty easy in comparison.
Although it was overwhelming and a little bit scary, I knew that I was going to have a blast and create all sorts of connections at that dinner and throughout the rest of the summer. We are entering a time in our lives where it’s likely that we could have to relocate and start over in a brand new place, and I want to remind you guys that it’s normal to be nervous and unsure! I’ll lay out a few things to help you feel less swamped by whatever situation you may find yourself in.
Tip 1: Everyone is in the same boat. Getting ready for that dinner, I guarantee that every other intern was feeling the same nervous excitement on some level. I knew that everyone wanted to make new friends just as much as I did! If you’re in a different sort of situation, like maybe you had to move to a brand new place for a job and you’re not with 200 other people like I am, it’s more than likely that anyone you meet relates to how you feel and wants to help you feel comfortable. Mention your situation, ask for suggestions, and I’m sure many will be willing to help you out.
Tip 2: Never judge a book by it’s cover! It’s a classic – never base an initial judgement of someone based off of what they are wearing or how they look. Hands down the worst way to go about finding friends. Someone may dress or style their hair completely different from you, but their values, hobbies or likes/dislikes could align perfectly. Get to know them first!
Tip 3: Be a “yes” man! I am reminding myself of this often. When you feel overwhelmed in a new situation, it’s super easy to hole yourself up in your room and watch Netflix and stalk your friends’ socials because it’s comfortable. This is exactly what you should not do. If someone invites you to dinner, say yes. If someone invites you to a workout class, say yes. If someone invites you to simply go for a walk, say yes! Be open to anything – experiencing something new together can create a pretty reliable relationship. Not to mention if you continuously turn down offers to do things, eventually you will stop receiving invitations.
Tip 4: Initiate things. Branching off of tip 3, you don’t always have to wait for other people to reach out to you to do fun things. Why don’t you try to reach out to them instead? Doing this shows people that you are genuinely interested in getting to know them, and they are more likely to invite you places as well.
At the end of the day, you just have to keep reminding yourself that you will be okay despite how you might feel going into it. Things that cause that many nerves often turn out to be the best experiences! For me, I know that living in a big city for the first time in my life with a brand new group of friends is going to be something that I won’t ever forget. This past week was a whirlwind of new information and piecing together my new schedule, but now that I have the hang of it I know that I will never regret choosing this.
So even though it can be scary and uncomfortable, outside of your comfort zone is where you grow as a person. Opportunities like this are where you can learn so much about yourself that you didn’t even know! I’m excited to share my experiences with you guys and give some ideas of what to do in Milwaukee, which I’ll be tagging in my insta captions as #summerinMKE. Stay on the lookout for my posts and tag along for a crazy and fun-filled summer!