We’re calling it: if 2016 was the year of the #squad, 2017 is the year of the social butterfly. While having a super tight, exclusive group of friends means your social life is sorted, branching out and finding buddies that you have one to one connections with can serve you well when it comes to becoming more confident, learning about yourself, and discovering skills that will come in handy for future adult friendships.
Your gang of besties will share the same in joke over and over again, until it’s as familiar and comforting as your favourite cosy hoodie. But new friends will share different stories and ideas, broadening your horizons and showing you the world in a different way. Here’s what new friends can do for you – and what you can do for your friends!
You might already be part of the sporty crowd, but if you’re a sweat dodger, you might think that you will never have anything in common with anyone who plays hockey at lunch for fun. Think again! People who are enthusiastic about a sport tend to be passionate about life in general, and more often than not, they’re desperate to show people why PE is so brilliant. They won’t mind if you’re lacking in coordination, and have a tendency to run away when you see a ball coming towards you. They will be able to show you a life-enhancing, energy-boosting side to sport that will inspire you, and you’ll be able to allow them to share their big love, which is even more fun than triple Games.
It seems like 100 years and 100 high school movies since geeks were considered uncool. The geeks have inherited the earth, and smart people appreciate smart people. Nerdiness and a love of learning is what makes the world progress.
However, if you’re not a self-describing geek, you might find geeks slightly intimidating and scarily clever. But geeky friends are great friends because they are some of the wisest, most interesting people on the planet – and importantly, while they might get seemingly endless A-grades, they’re usually more interested in the process than the result. Befriend a geek, become a geek, and realise that the smartest people in the room are the ones who are excited about what they don’t know, and prepared to ask lots of questions to find out.
The ‘quiet’ one
This comes with the caveat that you can’t make anyone be friends with you, and if someone is genuinely so shy that they’d rather eat lunch in the loo than sit with you, it’s not fair to force them out of their shell and comfort zone. But: quiet people are the ones most likely to get overlooked, when they could secretly be the funniest person you’ve ever met, or have a really fascinating hobby, or a super exciting musical talent. If you find yourself drawn to the noisiest people, see if you can get that quiet person talking, and learn how to shut up and listen.
The popular pal
According to ancient pop culture rules, being popular makes you really mean; the sort of person who likes to steal boyfriends and ruin proms. The law of averages says that in the history of time, there must be one or two popular prom-wreckers – but consider this. People are popular because they are liked, and they’re liked because they’re usually really nice. If you’ve decided to avoid the most popular girl at school because you’ve seen Mean Girls many times and you know what Regina George is capable of, it might be time to open up and be friendly. Hopefully, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
That super cool sixth former
Don’t be frightened! You might think your style/life crush is far too busy with A levels / UCAS applications / the general excitement of being 18 to appreciate an approach from a fan who wants to become a friend. However, they will be flattered if you say hello, and if you follow it up with a question about a shared passion – you’ve heard they’re taking Economics and you’re curious about it, or you’d love to know where they got their bag from – you have an ice breaker that might get a friendship started. Sometimes you have to find your own mentors. Approaching someone older and wiser is initially scary, but the benefits are massive.
The sweet but terrifyingly enthusiastic first year
You don’t remember being so confident when you were their age. Or so loud. Or… brazen. The younger person who wants to be your buddy might not seem like your cup of tea, but it’s definitely worth giving them a chance. Marissa Mayer of Yahoo recommends surrounding yourself with friends of all ages, because younger people can teach you as much as older people. This person is reaching out because they want to learn from you. Why not see what you can learn from them too? If nothing else, what they know about Snapchat hacks will make your head spin.
Image: Amber Griffin