Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

To Sheldon Cooper’s chagrin, there is no fancy algorithm or equation that will automatically provide you with a close-knit coterie of lifetime friends. And yet, Mr. Cooper isn’t alone in his backward way of thinking. A lot of you out there think that there must be some kind of formula of actions and words that will make you an irresistible catch to the people around you. I certainly believed this at one time, and spent most of my time post-social-interaction beating my head against a wall wondering why I wasn’t drowning in text messages and Facebook notifications yet. What was I doing wrong? Why did the people not love me? Cue angsty musical number.

Luckily, I have learned a thing or two since those days and have got myself a pretty rad group of friends if I do say so myself. I want that for you too, so here are five things to keep in mind when on the lookout for new besties.

Get Involved

I know you’ve heard this one before, but it really is the best way to meet people who share your interests. If you spend half your time holed up in your room watching 30 Rock, you can’t really blame your lack of friends on anything other than your solitary habits. So take a few steps outside and see the opportunities around you, whether they be knitting club, your local intramural field hockey team, or your school’s next drama production. You have to put yourself out there in order to reap reward. However, simply joining a club or team of interest to you might not be enough to form dedicated, lifelong friendships, and that’s okay! That’s what the next four categories are for.

Assume the Title of “Provider of Food”

Where there’s food, there’s friendship, and that’s a fact. So try bringing the orange slices and cooler of Gatorade to your next soccer match. Or try your hand at baking cupcakes for the cast of your musical. People will certainly appreciate the food, but they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness the most.

When you start thinking about organizing group outings, know that you’re not limited to the latest blockbuster to hit theaters. Restaurants make great locations for group outings, especially if you can ensure that your group is able to behave like adults. If that’s not your style, try out a trip to the pumpkin patch or a day of apple or strawberry picking. Get manicures or pedicures followed by froyo or have a swanky picnic (complete with a bottle of Martinelli’s) at a local park. So long as food is in some way involved, your outing is essentially foolproof.

Remember the Little Things

You shouldn’t have to rely on Facebook to remember your friends’ birthdays, plain and simple. Do whatever it takes to remember so that you don’t get caught by surprise on your friend’s special day:

  • Buy a separate wall calendar reserved solely for birthdays and keep it in a place where you’ll see it constantly (my parents favor the pantry)
  • Set birthday alarms on your phone or download a countdown app like MyDay
  • And now for my personal favorite: make a mental connection between your friends’ birthdays and the celebrities who share them (for example, my two best friends have the same birthdays as Jennifer Lawrence and Ian McKellan)

Beyond birthdays, it’s important to make an effort to remember things about your friends’ lives – their interests, families, favorite things, etc. Again, you shouldn’t need to facebook stalk them to achieve this: just listen when they talk. As in, actually pay attention instead of just nodding your head and occasionally muttering an “mmhm” or “yeah, totally.”

Give Awesome Gifts

I am in no way advising you to buy your friends’ love, because that is a thousand kinds of screwed up. What I am telling you is to put thought into the gifts you give people and that surprises never hurt anyone.

Have a friend heading off to college? Check out its online bookstore and score her a pennant, mug, scarf, pillow pet – the list goes on. Has your friend been wanting to read Ransom Rigg’s latest novel for ages but hasn’t found the time? Get him a copy and cover him for dogsitting this weekend. Does your Vampire Weekend-obsessed classmate have a birthday coming up? See if you can’t score him a ticket when you hit up the box office for yourself. Even if it’s just bringing a sleep-deprived friend coffee once during the week, it’s the thoughtfulness of the gesture more than the gesture itself that matters.

Find Out What’s “Hip With the Young People”

Again, I feel a disclaimer is in order. Don’t sacrifice your likes and interests in order to fit in; however, if you’re the only one at your lunch table not watching House of Cards, you might feel a bit left out when it comes to post-season-premiere episode recaps. And if you’re the only one in your class who missed the Oscars, you’ll be in the same position.

Try to take an active interest in what interests your friends. Go to their swim meets or opening nights, watch a few episodes of their favorite show, listen to that album they keep raving about, and tag along to the midnight premiere of that movie they’ve been dying to see. Who knows? Maybe you’ll expand your horizons and discover new favorite things for yourself; if not, you made the effort, and that’s what matters.

The same thing goes both ways! Introduce your friends to some of your favorite things as well. Let them borrow your Black Keys CD or tell them about an awesome new show on Netflix. Sharing a common love for something like a band or a TV show can really help solidify a friendship.

So there you have it: five things to keep in the back of your mind when meeting new people or simply seeking to reconnect with old friends. Whatever you do, remember to be yourself. Your friends will love you for exactly who you are. If they don’t, they were never friends to begin with. Be considerate, be adventurous, and you’ll have tons of new friends.

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the author

Elizabeth Watson (just call her Beth) is a senior at an itty-bitty private Catholic high school in Virginia. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes and performs sketch comedy with her improv troupe, rehearses like mad for school theatre productions, suits up for forensics competitions, and writes poetry for her school’s literary magazine. A brief rundown of Beth’s favorite people and things ever to exist in no particular order: hole-in-the-wall bookshops, sweaters, Jane Eyre, peppermint tea (in a Troy and Abed mug, of course), Broadway musicals, British period dramas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. Beth’s long-term goal in life to is to become Julie Andrews, but for now she’s focusing on surviving the final stretch of high school and getting into college–hopefully as an English major

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