For a newbie in Barcelona it is easy to meet a lot of new people in a short time. Before you can pronounce “una cerveza por favor,” you’ll have invitations for roof top parties and dinners. Yet, finding true friends is a very different story.
When I moved to Barcelona I hardly knew anyone, but I was lucky. I found one of my first and dearest friends on Plaça Catalunya, a huge square nearby the Ramblas.
Seven years ago I was searching for a job in Barcelona and about to enter an office at Plaça Catalunya, because I heard the company was hiring. Instead of entering the office, I approached a guy who was smoking outside. I asked him, in English, if he worked for the company. Fetze responded in Dutchm “I am from the Netherlands too.” Fetze and I are still friends, despite the fact he lives in Colombia now.
Making new friends is not easy. It can be tempting to stick to the people you know from college or only hang out with your significant other’s friends. You don’t need a lot of best friends either, but sometimes it can be wise to come out of your comfort zone.
For example, when you move to another city or country. Yes, your besties will visit you, you can skype, like all their Instagram posts, etc. Still, it won’t be same. To really feel at home in your new place of residence it helps if you have a person nearby to rely on.
When you are in a relationship, it can be good to have your own friends too and to give your significant other the space to hang out with theirs. And I don’t want be a cynical single here, but there is a possibility your relationship ends and your mutual friends are not that mutual anymore (because we’ve all been there).
Besides that, new friends, other than the people in your comfort circle, can make your life more interesting.
Yet, how do you that? That whole making new friends thing when you’re a 20something. You probably know the standard answer: you could sign up for dancing classes, team sport, cooking workshops, language courses, search the internet for “I would like to meet new people” groups and so on. I met one of my close friends studying Catalan, another dear friend I met through Kung Fu.
But for me, the key in finding real friends is trust.
That act of letting go prejudices and the fear of being yourself. Most of my friendships started when I felt vulnerable, when I shared the story behind the happy outgoing girl, when I asked people I hardly knew to help me.
Yes, I felt unconformable when I approached Fetze at Plaça Catalunya. I was afraid he would think I was a bit crazy. Well, he might have thought that (because I am), but in the end it was worth it. And yes, I was vulnerable when I called a colleague, because loneliness hit me in the face, but she was there for me and she still is.
Of course, I have been hurt too by people who I thought were my friends, and some of my friendships have ended. There will always be people who are not really interested in being your friend and you shouldn’t waste your energy in trying to be theirs.
But I would have never met my amazing friends if I had listened to my fears and prejudices.
It takes time and effort to build a new friendship, and sometimes we seem to forget that. People who are not opening up right away are not always arrogant or rejecting you. They might be an introvert. It can be caused by cultural differences, insecurity or a multitude of other reasons. You never know. If you give it some time and effort, they might turn out to be the most loyal friends you ever had.