I just don't know what to do with myself.
February 19, 2014 6:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble meeting people near my area. Any helpful suggestions?

I work full-time at an isolating job all week and when I finally get to the weekend - I have no idea what to do with myself. I've been struggling for a long time with this problem. Meeting people, finding friends. I feel like a lot of it has to do with the area I live in. I'm in central jersey and there's nothing but the suburbs and endless strip malls around me. I have to travel for more than an hour to get anywhere (Philly, NYC).

Ideally, I'd like to meet people with the same interests as me. Art, music, movies, comedy - anything. I've checked meetup.com but almost all of the interesting meetups I'd join are in Philly or NYC and they meet up in the middle of the week. I'm not finding anything else interesting happening near me.

I'm exploring online dating but for some reason I'm not getting any results. I've been told I have a decent profile but nobody ever responds to my messages. Women around my age around here are all mostly young professionals who I feel I'd have nothing in common with. I know I'm unfairly generalizing there but I always think that whenever I'm endlessly browsing through profiles that are nearby.

I'm 27 and I'm definitely in a transitional phase in my life. I don't have a college degree, never acquired a network of friends from college (like most people have done) - and I'm temporarily living at home until I'm financially straight to move out. The friends I do have who live in the area are married and are always busy. Every weekend I always end up by myself. Which is great since I can work on my art or spend time alone but it's incredibly isolating sometimes. And I'd really love to meet new people so I can be distracted from things I don't want to dwell on. I've been in therapy for two months now and it's been helping a lot - I want to put this new confidence I've gained for myself to work!

I know it feels like I'm just making up excuses but I honestly don't know what else someone my age would do to meet people. It's going to be a little while longer before I move out and I really don't want to wait until then.

Any suggestions or inspiring words would help a lot.

posted by morning_television to Human Relations (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Volunteer. Do you love animals? Are you interested in environmentalism? Find out what the organizations near you need help with. The best place to meet a like-minded person to befriend is in 'your element,' a place where you're flourishing and really passionate about what you're doing. If it's selfless, that's even better because you're being productive and helpful whilst meeting new (and usually awesome) people.

Keep yourself on the dating sites and be patient with that, it's a woman's world online unfortunately.
posted by OneHermit at 7:05 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding volunteering! Here's a list of volunteer organizations in NJ that are affiliated with the Points of Light national network; many of them act as matchmakers for local organizations so you can choose a cause that interests you. They may also host social events for volunteers.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:15 PM on February 19, 2014

Lower your standards for "interesting" meetups?

Check out local bars and practice talking to strangers?

Start your own meetup group?

Look for local classes? Besides community colleges, a lot of small arts organizations that you'd overlook if you weren't searching for offer cool classes.

Join a casual sports league?

Conceptualize an art project bigger than you can create on your own and hit up cragislist for people who can help you with specific things?
posted by itesser at 7:23 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Volunteering for sure!

Running groups are great. My husband is part of one and I've met some fantastic people like that. They generally meet on Sat/Sundays and separate into smaller groups to run or walk; then meet back up where they started and sit at a bagel shop drinking coffee and chatting for hours on end. Members are from all walks of life, from high powered executives to valets, high school to in their 80s.
posted by Neekee at 7:34 PM on February 19, 2014

Oh hey! You sound like me in my late 20s; I didn't stay in close contact with college friends, and found it hard to make new ones out in the real world. My stock answer for variations on this question is: Consider joining a fraternal or community service organization (Fraternal: Masons, Odd Fellows, Elks... Service: Lions, Kiwanis.) No, seriously. I found myself drifting into my mid-thirties feeling sort of friendless and disconnected from my community (no kids, so no ties to other parents through school or otherwise), but it never would have occurred to me to join an old fashioned club; like most people I assumed they're just for old guys. Then I found out a 20-something coworker was in the Elks, and that really turned my whole thinking about these old clubs on its head. Not too long after that I wound up becoming a Mason, and I wish I had done it years sooner.

While that might not seem like a direct answer to finding people with the same interests, I think that joining a broader community organization (versus one that's highly focused on one hobby or activity) affords you the opportunity to meet people the way college classes did; thrown together with people from all walks of life whom you probably would never have met otherwise, with a broad range of individual interests. You may not click with everyone, but assuming you and they share the core values of the organization, you'll meet plenty of good people. The more active you get, the more people you'll meet, and you will click with some of them. And you'll feel like you have a read on the pulse of your community.

The notion of joining a club as a casual social outlet has fallen so far out of our collective consciousness that it seems downright weird. It did to me, anyway; nobody in my immediate family belonged to the Elks/Masons/etc... but people used to belong to groups like this all the time before we got ourselves so damn distracted and isolated by TV and the internet. Younger people are joining these groups in greater numbers than Gen X or the Baby Boomers did. There's sometimes a little bit of a generation gap, but still... it's such a good way to fill that part of your life where something feels like it's missing.

Oh, and: dues in a lot of these organizations are lower than you might think. Caveat: Many older organizations expect members to affirm a totally vague and non-specific belief in a higher power, a holdover from their early beginnings; YMMV.
posted by usonian at 7:48 PM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Women around my age around here are all mostly young professionals who I feel I'd have nothing in common with.

There's nothing, like, illegal about going out with people who aren't necessarily perfect for you on paper. What will it hurt for you to just ask someone out to some restaurant you'd like to try? Even if you don't click, you got a chance to try out a new place.
posted by Etrigan at 7:51 PM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Find something interesting to do to pass the time commuting to find an interesting meetup in NYC or Philly. Surely there's at least one that meets on the weekends, if you lower your standards from 'ideal' to 'preferable to being alone and bored in central jersey'. Books, games on your phone, audiobooks, music, sleep, whatever floats your boat. That would be my game plan in your shoes.
posted by xiaolongbao at 9:14 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Women around my age around here are all mostly young professionals who I feel I'd have nothing in common with.

People who don't know how to like and enjoy the company of people both alike and different then them generally are not fun to be around and not really fun to date. The guys who get the most attention are the ones who really are nice and don't make women feel bad for not liking all the same things. Be more open to ppl different than you and more people will want to be around you, especially people with similar interests.
posted by discopolo at 4:10 AM on February 20, 2014

Just something from my experience: I moved from Seattle to an east coast suburb where I didn’t feel like I fit in at all. But when I spent some time with people I felt I’d have nothing in common with based on appearance/ demeanor/ demographic, it turned out I was wrong and there were cool, interesting people there. The suggestions you’re getting about joining clubs, etc. where you would have the opportunity to get to know a broader range of people better are good ones because of this. You might be subconsciously rejecting people because you don’t think you’d get along, but you may be surprised at what you find. (Not to minimize the difficulty in finding situations where that’s a possibility, but a reminder to keep an open mind.)
posted by metasarah at 5:46 AM on February 20, 2014

Where in Central NJ are you? Are you near any bigger towns like Princeton, Red Bank or Asbury Park? All of those areas have awesome events through the week and on weekends. Also, check out the cultural events or book clubs at the library nearby. I grew up in that area and getting out of the suburbs and into those towns totally saved me.
posted by zem at 5:55 AM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Metafilter meetups?

Seconding usonian's idea of joining a club or organization. This is exactly why I joined the Jaycees. If there's a chapter near you, check it out.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:38 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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