Any advice for this shut-in after moving to Fort Lauderdale?
September 23, 2007 9:09 AM   Subscribe

About six weeks ago I moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for work. I'm just about completely settled in and now have the difficult task of meeting people. What can I do?

I graduated from college last April and, after a little difficulty finding work, I got a job in Florida after having lived my entire life in Michigan. Anyway, after thinking it over in my head I realized I've never made friends outside of school. I live with a coworker that I knew in school (he let me know about the job) and he's alright, but he's no better at meeting people than I am. There are a few other coworkers there in my age bracket, but they're more into MMORPGs.

Pretty much all my current hobbies are very solitary: reading, playing on computer, video games... I can see how these can become group hobbies in the right circumstances, I guess. I've been interested in music for awhile (used to play in high school and college band) and want to take up guitar. I would like (eventually) to make short films with friends. And I'm alright with going to see live music of local groups, but have no idea where to start looking to get into that 'scene' (don't really care for the term). I think the music I'm most inclined to see would be something akin to 'indie rock'.

To top it off, I'm pretty insecure around new people and... I guess 'anxious' would be a good description. People say I act nervous, even when I don't feel nervous. Although I do get nervous more than I probably should. I can talk to strangers, but mostly just one-on-one. I used to be very depressed, but now I mainly feel pretty good about who I am as a person. I don't really want to be very outgoing, just enough so I can meet a few new people a month and have a small group of close friends.

Any advice for this insecure shut-in?
posted by Green With You to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Try I moved to Paris a few months ago and was faced with the same problem, but, I joined a bunch of different Meetup groups and forced myself (through loads of anxiety) to just go to events and see what happened. And, I've met a lot of really nice people -- you'd be amazed how many people are in the same boat.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:20 AM on September 23, 2007

Have a MetaFilter meetup.
posted by hermitosis at 9:40 AM on September 23, 2007

I grew up in South Florida, but I moved away for college and came back to Fort Lauderdale and didn't know anyone (and have issues going up to strangers and interacting), so I have some experience.

Seconding, but look for larger groups because the smaller meetups can be cliquey and it's hard to meet/talk to people.

There's also one lan center that I know of, but it's Palm Beach County.

There's a pretty healthy open mic scene in the tri-counties, you don't have to play right away if you're learning guitar and there's a few people who go who teach guitar (and flyers up for lessons). I put an e-mail in my profile if you wanted a list of the open mics or other info.

Honeycomb used to be really awesome for finding local shows.

And since you're interested in making short films, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival's website is pretty active with movie events.
posted by ruevian at 10:30 AM on September 23, 2007

South Florida MetaFilter Meetup ... Mid-October
posted by MrBCID at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2007 and other online sites are fine, but you should also try more organic methods.

If you're religiously inclined, I would recommend you to visit local places of worship and interact. People tend to be a lot more social and open (not to mention genuine), and they want you to stick around so they'll go the extra mile. If you don't mind the religious aspect, this is probably the best way to meet people without feeling awkward.

Otherwise, consider taking classes to learn something new (like dancing), or volunteering, both in areas you're actually interested in.

As for your insecurity, there are always self-help resources. It's cliché, but they will help, and you can always practice on your coworkers. Failing that there's always professional help (e.g., speech therapists, coaches).

In any case, once you have a solid network of friends, it's not difficult to expand it by proxy, until you can afford to start being selective.
posted by kyp at 10:47 AM on September 23, 2007

For the record, I am not religiously inclined though I am not against knowing people who are.
posted by Green With You at 10:52 AM on September 23, 2007

If you like live music, there are quite a few places in the area where you might go hear a few bands and then bump into people to talk to.

I hated South Florida but found Fort Lauderdale to be the most palatable of the cities in the area.

O'Hara's and Mangos on Las Olas are both places that I frequented alone although I much prefer the O'Hara's right down I-95 in Hollywood. If you haven't made it to downtown Hollywood, it's definitely worth a trek. Lots of young folks milling about on weekends...quaint restaurants and cool bars. Just try going out alone once or twice. You'll grow accustomed to it and you'd be surprised how many people will strike up a conversation with you there if they see you by yourself.

I would also suggest the meetups but I've joined a few here in Phoenix and found that people mostly just show up for the events, act friendly and then leave. You have to make a real effort to form genuine friendships with them.

Good luck...and go to the beach as often as possible. I can't believe how little time I spent at the beach during the eight years I lived there. Pack a beach towel and flip flops in your trunk and drive straight to the beach after work. It's a great way to unwind after sitting on I-95 for hours wondering where the hell all those people are going.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:28 PM on September 23, 2007

I left South Florida a year and a half ago. It can be pretty hard to meet people down there. The sprawl and other factors make finding things to do (especially anything remotely 'cultural') very difficult. I managed to meet most of the people I knew when I was still in school, and friends-of-friends sort of tacked themselves on as time went on.

Read the New Times and other alternative weeklies if you're trying to find live shows that suit your musical taste. The listings are pretty comprehensive, and there's more stuff going on than you would think, it's just spread out. Music is honestly going to be your best bet for meeting people and for sheer volume of shows going on any given night. I was never big into going to shows but there were so many and everyone was going that I would often go to 2-3 small venue performances in a week. There are a lot of free music events at places like the pier and Las Olas, if you're looking to save some cash.

The local universities are a really good option. Audit a film class at one of the local schools, particularly production classes (because then you have all kinds of access to equipment you normally wouldn't).

Also, a lot of the schools down there will have really cool free/cheap events going on, so check out the local college newspapers or Student Government groups to see what's going on. If you graduated recently its a really good way to meet people your age and to get to go to things for cheap/free. Check out the arts programs if they have any student exhibitions of artwork and/or student films, etc. Fun, free, great way to meet people. Also, a lot of schools have groups that are open to members of the local community, so there may be a film club you can join and go to their events/screenings.

Other film stuff: some of the cinema chains have indie/arthouse movies if you look (again, in New Times, etc), or have certain nights of the week dedicated to foreign films with discussion sessions or director Q&As afterward. Be sure to check out the Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami film festivals.

There is also a fairly large and active gaming culture in South Florida, you just have to find them. There are LAN centers and other gaming shops you can find people interested in gaming, and a few different conventions/expos where you can meet people of a similar mindset. MMORPGs have a good following down there, try to talk to these guys and I'm sure at least one of them occasionally does something other than play WoW...maybe.

Overall try to get yourself out there, be friendly and open to talking to random strangers. People are pretty friendly there (more so than a lot of places I've lived) and you never know where you'll meet someone. Don't pressure yourself when you go out to make five new best friends - just go out to enjoy yourself and pass the time. If you come across as forced or desperate you might turn people off. Be patient and your one or two friends will turn into a circle of peeps. Good luck!
posted by SassHat at 12:44 PM on September 23, 2007

I live in Hollywood. You could come down this way for a beer sometime. Email is in the profile.
posted by bilabial at 7:12 PM on September 24, 2007

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