question about meeting people
July 16, 2012 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I've been in Austin for a little over a month now. I've been trying to find things to and trying to meet people. I could use some advice, some tips, or really just some encouragement.

I like it a lot down here. The place is really laid-back, really relaxed, and the few people I run into here and there are interesting. But I've been having a lot of trouble meeting people/making friends and a good amount of difficulty finding things to do.

I'm a recovering alcoholic and have been sober for fifteen months now. Austin, I've found, is a very wet town. I didn't think it would bother me as much as it has, as I'd been going out to bars and being around people who drank for the past year of my sobriety. But down here, being mostly on my own, I find myself very, very apprehensive of putting myself out there and going to events where, more often than not, folks are drinking a lot. I'm not afraid that I'll be tempted–it would take something massive to make me want to drink–but I just feel deeply uncomfortable going to new places/events by myself where people are drinking or where drinking is the main focus of the place.

I've signed up for a few volunteer opportunities. I made an OKCupid account. I start a new job in August. These things should help me form some relationships with some new people who I can go out and do things with and get more comfortable with taking on this city on my own. But for now, I spend a lot of my time at home or sitting around at coffeeshops reading. Which is fine and what I like a lot of the time–I'm not much of a social person since getting sober, as I've found that people annoy me a lot–but now and then...I dunno, the loneliness and the occasional boredom are frustrating.

posted by Modica to Work & Money (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you enjoy hiking and other outdoorsy/sporty activities? Maybe try Hill Country Outoors. The Sierra Club also sets up outdoorsy meetups.
posted by magicbus at 4:58 PM on July 16, 2012

I don't live in Austin, but I can vouch that MeFites in general are pretty awesome, and some of the Austin MeFites are definitely awesome, so why not go to the proposed meetup? If that particular event doesn't float your boat, suggest another one. It's a great way to feel more plugged in to the community.
posted by ambrosia at 4:58 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about joining Meetup groups that are sports or activities-based where alcohol wouldn't really fit in during the main event, like hiking or a baseball league? Sure, people might go out for a drink afterwards but you can skip out of that without seeming weird.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:00 PM on July 16, 2012

I think starting a new job will help. I have moved a few times in my life to completely new places where I know no one. (Most recently about a year and a half ago). The sad truth is that it will just take a while. For me, it usually takes at least a year to feel comfortable with the new people I meet, and feel like I belong in the new place I have moved.

Are there any groups or clubs that you are interested in joining? Volunteer activities? Finding things to do where alcohol isn't the main focus will be key. Good luck to you.

(Also, I am in San Antonio--perhaps we could propose a meetup in the area.)
posted by nasayre at 5:00 PM on July 16, 2012

Also, if you like to hike, there are some really great state parks very close.
posted by nasayre at 5:01 PM on July 16, 2012

Things like soccer, kickball, softball, ultimate, etc. are really popular around here. There are a lot through the Austin Sports & Social Club which, yes, does involve going out for a "drink" afterwards but no one will care or pressure you for having soda instead of alcohol, you will be far from the only one. I think there is another group that does it as well.
posted by magnetsphere at 5:08 PM on July 16, 2012

My standard advice in these questions is to go to metafilter meetups. It worked for me.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:20 PM on July 16, 2012 is really popular around here, you might try something there for whatever your interests are.

Do you play sports at all? I hoop on the weekends and I've always been able to walk onto a court/go to the gym and get in a game without knowing anyone. I'm told the various other sports are similarly laid-back and welcoming. The park where I do my running regularly has softball leagues and kickball leagues and ultimate games going and I'd say I've been randomly invited to play 50% of the times I go out, and I don't know any of the people involved.

There's also a ton of gyms, rock climbing centers, Crossfit studios, martial arts places, etc., if you're into those sorts of things. I go to a bog standard 24 Hour Fitness and after about a year I get the head nod and conversations of The Regulars.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:25 PM on July 16, 2012

I'm not a huge outdoors person. Well, I should say that I've never really hiked or camped. I love rock climbing, swimming, white water rafting, kayaking and canoeing. These are all things I've done and have enjoyed immensely. So maybe I am an outdoors person.

Sports, though? Definitely not :P

I've signed up for a few volunteer activities. And there's a couple MeetUp groups I joined but haven't had the balls to go to. So now I'm looking at/joining others and am going to make an actual effort to go.

And I'll be down for a MeFi meetup. For sure.
posted by Modica at 5:33 PM on July 16, 2012

I'm the suggester of that meetup and would be more than open to moving it to a different venue if that would make it more comfortable for you. Dog & Duck has been successful before but so has a coffeehouse (Cherrywood Coffeehouse, I think--I didn't organize that one) and Freddie's, which is a restaurant, but I hesitate to suggest it because we might end up outside in the sun.

Do put your two cents in! We'd love to meet you.
posted by immlass at 5:51 PM on July 16, 2012

Being at a bar in and of itself doesn't bother me, especially if I have people to talk to! So that'd be fine.
posted by Modica at 5:54 PM on July 16, 2012

Your list of activities pretty closely overlaps mine - how do you feel about mountain biking? I don't have current knowledge of clubs, but when I was in high school and college, there were some very friendly ones. The Barton creek greenbelt is awesome for biking, and a there are plenty of other trails too.

The closest whitewater kayaking is the in San Marcos at the Buena Vista park. They have a park and play spot and all the kayakers I've met there are very friendly. (if you don't have gear, Ben at POOC can probably help you out). I've only visited during the winters, so I'm not sure what hours are uncrowded in the summer.

(Thanks for asking this question - I'm moving back to Austin next week, and looking forward to getting to know the city!)
posted by Metasyntactic at 6:14 PM on July 16, 2012

I've never done mountain biking. Really, up until I quit drinking I was a strictly indoors person. Writing, reading, video games. I don't play video games much now. Writing and reading are a still a large part of my life, though.

I'm looking at the Hill Country calendar and all of this stuff looks awesome. Once I have income rolling in, I'm getting into this for sure.
posted by Modica at 6:18 PM on July 16, 2012

Swimming, you say?

I've heard Austin Rock Gym is the place to go for indoor rock climbing, there's one a little south of Lady Bird Lake and one up north. There's outdoor climbing spots on the Greenbelt, I believe.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:22 PM on July 16, 2012

Hi -- I relate.

I just moved to Austin in May and I don't know many people either.

I'd be up for a meetup as well.

I think having a job would help a lot -- at least I hope it will when I find one!
posted by hrj at 7:24 PM on July 16, 2012

Outdoor type stuff is a good place to start, if you ask me, because the people are usually very friendly and accepting, there is always someplace to start with a conversation or something to do, and outdoor/athletic stuff is almost *always* no-drinking. There is an austin kayak meetup group, not super-active but they do stuff. Most of the places to kayak really close to austin are very calm water but I find it fun and do it for exercise.

Some kind of casual art-type class might be nice if that's your thing. There's official type stuff like ACC and there are also sometimes casual art-collective type things. That's not really my thing so I don't know much but I always hear about little impromptu dance and art things. I could probably dig up some references if you're interested, me-mail me.

A friend of mine does austin photo walks - you might like this. He runs a few, I think, one of them is specifically sort of an iphone or casual camera type photo walk, i.e. not meant for people with big ole cameras, just a fun thing. Could be a good way to meet people and also see some neat stuff around town. Again, if that's something you're interested in I can post details.

An austin meetup would be good, I've never actually made it to one but I keep thinking I should go. Even an impromptu mini-meetup would be nice. I guess people usually go to bars for these things.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:26 PM on July 16, 2012

Contra Dance. They are specifically no smoking and no drinking activities.
posted by jvilter at 7:45 PM on July 16, 2012

I have a friend who is very into the social dance scene in Austin- all kinds of partner dancing, including salsa and other latin dance, country dancing, swing, you name it. I've been to events with her and they're pretty fun and while alcohol is usually present, you can't really hold a drink whole you dance so no one will notice or care if you don't partake. Most have free lessons at the start and are weekly or regular things, so you can easily become a regular even if you aren't particularly good at it. And if you're male, you'll probably be in demand. If you're interested, I'll ask her for a rundown of current events!
posted by MadamM at 8:08 PM on July 16, 2012

For you: go to whole foods at 6th and Lamar, and Barton springs.

Further reading: jo's coffee on south congress and daily juice on Barton springs road.

It will come with time. Austin drinks, but Austin also does clean living just as big.

I'll wager Austin is the cleanest-living city in America right now.
posted by roboton666 at 8:13 PM on July 16, 2012

Do you like cooking? If you can afford it, Whole Foods and Central Market both offer some pretty awesome classes (sometimes they have free ones). Especially if you took a class that met several weeks in a row, it would be a great opportunity to meet other people in a low-risk environment.

You also mention loving reading -- have you gone to any readings or signings at Book People? Like minded folks, plus there's an automatic topic of conversation built in to the event.

On a more general note, I found people in Austin to be super friendly and open to conversation. I know it's feels like it's incredibly awkward to just walk up to someone and start talking, but most people are pretty excited and flattered that there's a new potential friend to be made. If you see someone browsing in Waterloo who has a new album in their hand that you've listened to, for example, just walk up to them and start chatting!
posted by itsamermaid at 9:15 PM on July 16, 2012

I love cooking. It's one of the few things I think I'm good at. I've been curious about cooking classes but most were far (far) out of my price range back home, so I haven't really checked that stuff out here.
posted by Modica at 10:01 PM on July 16, 2012

You're really looking at this the wrong way.

What can you offer people that you meet in Austin? People like to meet and make friends with those that bring unique angles, something new, something interesting to scene - otherwise
most will be inclined to keep their current social circle in tact.

Find a way to bring those qualities out while you engage in your first level interactions. You might also have to do somewhere "heavy lifting " for the good people of Austin.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:49 AM on July 17, 2012

Try volunteering at the Austin Bat Cave. If you are into the whole literary scene, there are tons and tons of events. Feel free to Memail me.
posted by mattbucher at 6:59 AM on July 17, 2012

Since you mentioned climbing, this mailing list and this meetup often organize trips on weekends. I'm just getting back into climbing after a few years off, so feel free to fb me (link in my profile) if you want to tag along; I often swing by NARG after work, before going out for the evening.

Do you play board games? There are public get-togethers almost every other day, and once you get to know a few people, you can find a game that's going on any night of the week.

If you dance at all, ABP is this weekend!

Pretty much everything else that I'd suggest has already been mentioned, but let me just add that I've been in Austin for seven years now, and I think I've been in a bar fewer than ten times (and at least half of those occasions have been metafilter meetups). There's a lot to do around here.
posted by suncoursing at 10:32 AM on July 17, 2012

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