Goo Hoarding and How to Stop


We’ve all been there, right? You open your bathroom cabinet or drawer, and you think to yourself, “How did I acquire this much goo???” Moisturizers, serums, hair product, perfumes, it all just piles up as you find a thing here or there and add it to the cabinet.

Since I’m getting ready to move, it’s time for me to look at the parts of my life that tend to get cluttered. For me, that’s clothing and skin care products. I’m doing well on the clothing at the moment, because I put a moratorium on buying new seasonal clothes since we’re moving somewhere with a different climate. The only things I’ve added to the closet are wardrobe basics, and when I add something new, I put something old in the donation pile.

But I hadn’t really looked at my skin care in a bit, so I figured it was a good time to address that. There’s no point in shipping things I don’t need, and risking them leaking or breaking in transit.

Here are my favorite tips for keeping your goo-cabinet from getting out of hand.

  1. Use bins. They’re a life-saver. Whether it’s shoe boxes, cute bins you bought, or the smaller boxes from a Lush shipment, use some sort of containers to compartmentalize your things and help keep you in check. If everything is supposed to be in a container, then you know it’s time to throw things out when it doesn’t all fit in said container. The other great thing about using these is that I know exactly where my products are. One box is only hair and bath stuff, one box is only skin care, one box is only essential oils, etc. When I need to go rummaging, I pull down the appropriate box, find what I need, then put it all back in the box and re-shelve it. Even if it’s just tossed in there with no order to it, my products *look* organized when I look at the shelf, because they’re contained in boxes. Personally, I like to reuse small boxes that I get packages mailed in, so that I’m staying organized and creating less waste.
  2. Go through your goo periodically. A quarterly goo-purging is probably all you need. Set a reminder on your phone, or put a sticky note on your bathroom cabinet with the date on it. When it’s time, pull ALL your stuff out onto the counter, take it all out of the boxes, and survey your collection. Do you love and use every single one of these products? Chuck anything that you were underwhelmed with, that’s mostly empty and you’re not using anymore, or that you bought on a whim because it looked cool but realized you’re never going to use it. If you bought a new toner that’s the best thing ever, you can get rid of your old, less-awesome toners. When are you going to use the mediocre ones in place of your new fave? Is anything in that box broken or leaking? Toss it; you don’t need puddles of dried stuff all over your cabinet. If you have a friend who’s into skin care, see if they want to give those ‘good but not for me’ products a test run instead of throwing them out. It can be your good deed for the day.
  3. Try to use up a product before replacing. This is hard to do, but it will save you money and space. If you’ve got a cleanser that works well for you, use it up completely before trying a new cleanser. Sometimes, I’ll get overwhelmed with products and I’ll have to stop buying things until I can use up some of what I have. I hate to waste product, especially if it works well, so to regain control of my cabinet, I take buying breaks where I just use what I have for as long as I can. Sometimes it’ll take me several months to use things up to the point of needing a replacement. That’s several months of not spending money on new products, and several months of slowly freeing up space in my bathroom. The products you’re already using must be working – if they made you break out, you wouldn’t be using them – so keep using them until you get the full value of what you bought. Don’t throw good money away if you don’t have to.
  4. Shop with space in mind. If you’re trying out a product for the first time, especially if it’s an expensive one, get a travel size or sample first. It will take up less room in your cabinet, and if you hate it, you can throw it away without feeling like you wasted a ton of money on a full-sized product that turned out to be a bad fit. Probably 90% of my Sephora purchases come from the little stands of travel products, because unless I know for a fact that a given product is going to work great on my skin, I don’t want to pay full price for it. That’s a big gamble; some oil cleansers can cost $50 or so. I don’t want to realize that was a mistake.
  5. Take advantage of return policies. One of the many good things about Sephora is their return policy. You can open up and use a product, and if it doesn’t work for you or makes you break out, you can return it. Their policy says products have to be ‘new or gently used.’ So don’t try to return something you used half of, but if you tried it once and hated it, and you still have your receipt, you can take it back and get a refund. Check the return policies of other places you shop as well; don’t keep products sitting around that you don’t like.
  6. Know your skin type. Buying products that are made for skin like yours will save you a ton of grief and money. If you don’t know your skin type, you’re basically just guessing every time you buy a new product, and hoping it will work. That’s got to get expensive after a while, not to mention leaving you with a cabinet full of failed goo purchases. I just learned a great way to find your skin type: get a piece of blotting paper, and pat your face with it in the middle of the day, well after you’ve washed your face. If the paper comes away soaked with oil and almost completely translucent, you have oily skin. If you have a few translucent spots but not enough to cover the blotting paper, your skin is combination. And if the paper comes away from your face like you hardly did anything to the paper at all, then your skin is dry. How easy is that? You can also ask your local skin care store rep to help you suss out your skin type before you start spending money; they know their stuff and are usually happy to help.

As Alton Brown says, organization will set you free. Nobody wants to open their cabinets in the morning and deal with a crapalanche of old products – we need our mornings to be easy, because sleep is good and digging through a packed cabinet just starts our day off on a frustrating note. When your products are easy to find, appropriate for your skin, and have intact packaging, your morning routine will be infinitely easier to pull off, so that you can leave the house looking and feeling fab.


BirdFashion Road Trip Essentials

I don’t know about your part of the world, but it certainly feels like summer here in Texas. What better time than now for a good old-fashioned road trip? It’s a summer staple in America; we have books and movies and songs about the event, and to my mind, it’s an excellent chance to experience something new without ever having to get in a TSA line.

I just got through with a wonderful road trip with my parents and sister. We drove from Texas to Massachusetts, and it was incredible. On this trip, I not only saw some gorgeous sights, ate amazing food, and talked to friendly people, but I was inspired to blog about what I wore and took with me that made my road trip even better. If you’re hitting the road this summer, here are some suggestions on what you can bring along to enjoy the journey just a little bit more.

  • Clothing that isn’t restrictive – It wouldn’t be a road trip without hours spent in the car, so your clothing choice is going to determine a lot of your comfort on this trip. Structured waistbands are probably not your friend here; opt for sundresses, maxi skirts, or leggings and tunic tops. Nobody looks good after ten hours in a packed car, so embrace it and get comfy! For undergarments, bust out your comfiest sports bra or t-shirt bra. You don’t need underwires trying to shank you while you’re napping against the car window. When you consider shoes, consider the weather, but have one pair of slides or flip-flops that you can wear while you’re actually in the car. Sitting for a long time makes your feet swell, so you need something you can kick off. You can pack your comfy or cute shoes in the trunk for sightseeing once you stop for the day.
  • Some way to be alone – This sounds counter-intuitive, since you’re going on a road trip to go somewhere *with people* right? But let’s be realistic here: after a couple days on the road, you’re gonna run out of things to talk about, or people’s normal habits are going to get annoying. You can create some privacy for yourself even when you’re crammed into a vehicle together, but it takes some preparation. If you like to read (and can do so without getting carsick), pack a novel or two to get lost in, or bring your Kindle. Does music soothe your soul? Bring an external charger for your phone and some comfortable earbuds so you can get your groove on without a dead phone ruining your day. Coloring books (like my personal favorite) or small craft projects are good options too, as long as you have plenty of sealable storage options for your supplies. Losing a 64-pack of colored pencils under the seats wouldn’t go over well with the driver.
  • A way to record the journey – You’re going to want to celebrate and remember this epic trip you’re taking, so bring along a way to memorialize it! Ditch the phone-camera and bring a legit video camera along if you have (or can borrow) one. Or if you want to travel light and aren’t going for an HD movie experience, keep your phone and post some good moments to Facebook Live or Snapchat so your friends can follow along. Of course, if you’re feeling lo-fi and a little artsy, you can always go for a journal or a sketchbook. Bonus with those last two: you never need to charge them.
  • Car-appropriate skin care – Long car rides to places with different elevations, weather, and allergens can do a number on your precious skin, and leave you looking like the road you came in on when you disembark. In addition to your regular morning and nighttime skin routines when you get to your AirBnB, consider an in-car skincare pack. You can use this for skin emergencies, or boredom emergencies (car spa party for the passengers?). Pack a small bag with moisturizing face mist, sheet masks, cleansing wipes, body lotion, and a travel-friendly refreshing eye cream. Depending on what your skin does in the car, you’ll have a chance to address it on the go without making a mess. Don’t forget to put that sunscreen on everyday!
  • A sense of adventure! – There is no such thing as a perfect road trip. You might get lost, have a flat, get into an argument with your car-mates, or find out when you get there that the art gallery you really wanted to see is closed for renovation. It’s disappointing, and it’s *completely* okay to feel bad when things go wrong. But road trips are about having an adventure, and those disappointments can either be just disappointing, or they can be part of the adventure. Getting lost may take you through countryside you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. That argument could end in one of those deep, soul-searching conversations you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Your favorite gallery might have been closed, but what else is in that town that might similarly blow your mind? I can’t guarantee you road-trip success, Fledglings, but I can say with some certainty that if you practice optimism and gratitude the whole way, it will be much easier to roll with any surprises that come your way, pleasant or not-so-much.

Safe travels! Comment with some photos or stories about your own road trips and what products you can’t leave home without.

In Defense of Ritual

Hey Fledglings. Let’s talk about ‘busy,’ and why it’s not doing us any favors.

We all try to pretend that we can go full-throttle through life, reacting to whatever gets flung at us, and that this tactic is both sustainable and a path to real happiness. But how many of us are happy, and how many of us are just stressed out? Sure, we feel important and needed when we schedule every second of our day, but what’s all that ‘busy’ getting us, other than a stress headache?

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, I’m busy *now*, but eventually things are going to calm down. You know, when I’m more successful/make more money/replace my car/finish school/etc.”

Is that true, though? Think really hard about this. Is your compulsively-busy life in pursuit of a specific goal, after which you have a concrete plan to change your habits? I’m betting that, like so many before you, you’re more likely to be using your busy life as an excuse to not deal with some things. I know I’ve pretended to be ‘too important/needed/busy’ to face down my negative thoughts, bad relationships, or horrible finances before. Take my advice; that’s not a sustainable plan. Life catches up, whether you want it to or not.

If we have goals in life, doing everything we could ever do ever, is not the way to reach them – it’s a good way to wind up on blood pressure medication, but it is not a good way to reach your goals. To achieve the things we want to achieve in life, the main thing we need is FOCUS. Remember how we talked about SMART goals a while back? Well, taking on All The Things, whether or not they serve our goals, just because we want to feel needed, does not fall in line with the theory behind SMART goals.

So what’s a lady to do? How can we better achieve our life goals, actually feel happy right NOW, and become comfortable with looking at ourselves and our own thoughts?

This is where ritual comes in. I’m not talking about religion, although if that’s your thing, by all means make it happen. I’m talking about the kind of ritual we can build into our daily lives, the kind that gives us time to focus on our own thoughts and goals and how we can improve them. If you’re constantly on the run from one thing to the next thing, you don’t have time to do that. So, are you reaching your goals? How would you know? You haven’t sat down in a month and a half; where are you even at on your way to those goals?

This is why I love Korean skincare. Yeah, it makes my face look and feel amazing, but it also comprises about twenty minutes of each day where I do nothing but take care of myself. During that time, I can let my mind wander. I can ponder things that are stressing me out, or things I’d like to change. I can think about my goals and if I’m doing enough to reach them. Taking time to just think is absolutely crucial to being successful in life – if you slow down for a bit, you can choose your path more carefully, and the ritual of a full skincare routine forces you to slow down.

Embrace your thoughts, even the negative ones – they’re there for a reason. If something is not right in your world, you have an opportunity to change it, but only if you know what’s going on. Paying attention to how you think and feel for a few minutes each day, maybe while you moisturize, is a good way to acknowledge that things could be better for you, and then take steps toward making things better.

I try to relax in the bathtub for a while at least once a week. It’s where I can let my mind wander for a bit, relax my sore muscles, and just be silent. Yet again, this ritual is great for me feeling grounded and able to take on the rest of the week. I usually put on a sheet mask while I’m at it, because I might as well do it up right! Heck, just making time to blog today is helping me put my own goals into perspective. I need to do that sometimes, and you do too. So let’s build a little more ritual into our lives, so that we can use that time to focus ourselves and be more successful during the rest of the day.

Here are some suggestions for time you can take to be quiet and focus:

  • Morning and evening skin routine (get that sheet mask going, you literally can’t do anything for fifteen minutes)
  • Religious services, if that’s your jam
  • Yoga/meditation class
  • Working out
  • Bath or shower time
  • A meditation app, like Headspace

No, that last bit isn’t getting me any money; I just downloaded the app about a month ago, and it’s kind of changed my life. It’s a series of ten-minute mindfulness meditations to help you focus and be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It’s fantastic.

Ordering your day so that you can include a ritual or two can open up so many possibilities. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time – the things I suggested take between ten minutes and one hour – but adding in some you-time will help you reach your goals more directly. If you feel like you’re flailing around trying to reach your goals, or even trying to figure out what those goals are, try and put some more rituals into your daily routine. Get used to moving from one thing to the next as you get ready for bed, or when you come home at the end of the day. See how it feels to relax your mind a little and just be with your thoughts.

I’ve gotten some good results from this. I bet you will too.

Natural Deodorant: Making the Switch

In the last blog, I reviewed Lavanila’s natural deodorant, and how it’s an overall good product. This week, I’m going to give you some hints if you want to switch to a gentler, less-processed brand of deodorant. It’s a bit of an adjustment, but if it’s a move you want to make, I’m here to ease the transition. Like I said a couple weeks ago, you’ll still get good results once you’ve adjusted to it.

If you’ve never switched from big-box to natural deodorant before, here are some things you should know before you make the leap.

  1. There’s an adjustment period for your body. Big-box deodorant has a bigger effect on your skin than you’d think – your body gets used to you using it all the time, so when you first stop using it, you’ll probably feel a tiny bit sweaty and/or smelly for a week or two while your skin adjusts to not being coated with metallic powder (Wikipedia says there’s no link between deodorant and health problems, as does the FDA, so going natural is an entirely aesthetic decision, but yeah, metallic powder). The excessive sweating calms down after that time, because your body has adjusted to life without the chemical stuff. You might just need to wash more often during that adjustment time.
  2. There’s an adjustment period for your mind too. The thing about chemical deodorant is that it makes your sweat smell like whatever insane fragrance they’re running that production cycle, so you kind of forget how humans are supposed to smell. When you start smelling like a human again, i.e. no longer sweating perfume, it’s a little unnerving. For a bit there, I couldn’t shake the idea that I smelled and everyone knew it. In Western society, that’s a pretty big problem. But I ran it by some close friends (because what are friends for?), and my mom has never been one to mince words if I smelled weird because her nose is as sensitive as mine, and it turns out it was all in my head. No, I didn’t smell like Coconut Moonbeam, but I didn’t ‘stink’ either. What a relief.
  3. You can’t reapply. You know the drill: you didn’t shower last night, you need to get out the door, so you put on another layer of deodorant and some body spray and it’s fine until you can shower after work, right? Not so with the natural stuff. It doesn’t have as many, or the same kind of, preservatives as the chemical stuff, so it soaks into your skin and wears off by the end of the day. If you’re an every-other-day shower-er, you might find yourself needing to just wash your pits with a washrag on your off days, so that you can reapply the deodorant to freshly-cleaned skin. It doesn’t fail to work entirely if you skip this step, but it definitely doesn’t work as well as if you’d washed up.
  4. There are two kinds of sweat. I knew this academically from a couple of Anatomy and Physiology classes I took in college, but it was a different story when I smelled the effects on myself, and it was a little surprising at first. Regular, daily sweat that’s there to regulate your body temperature doesn’t really smell all that much – natural deodorant handles this kind of sweat easily, even if it’s from working out. But then there’s stress sweat. Yikes. Stress sweat has some other chemicals in it, because  you’re sweating due to a different biological process that I won’t bore you with, so if you nearly get rear-ended, or your boss starts yelling at you, you might just start sweating in such a way that your deodorant can’t keep up. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s entirely possible that you’re the only one who can tell, but it is surprising when it first happens, because again, you’re no longer sweating Coconut Moonbeam, you’re sweating regular sweat like humans do, so you kind of become more aware of what’s going on in your body. For me, that’s a good thing, but it might not be for you. It’s good to be informed.
  5. Oh yeah – you start sweating again. It’s damnear impossible to find a mainstream brand of deodorant in America that isn’t also an antiperspirant. For the record, deodorant = not smelly, antiperspirant = not sweating. That metallic powder I mentioned earlier actually clogs up your sweat glands, which is what keeps you from sweating. It’s one of the reasons I switched – personally, I think we’re supposed to sweat. Natural deodorant doesn’t have that antiperspirant factor at all, so you have to get used to sweating again, just not smelling rank when you do it. Like I said, the extra sweating calms down after a bit, but if it’s hot out, you’re just going to sweat. The upside of this, however, is that while the big-box deodorant can sometimes cake onto your shirt when you sweat and be hard to wash out or stain your clothes, the natural stuff doesn’t do that. My clothes get cleaner and last longer if I’m just sweating normal human-sweat and not ‘sweat mixed with god-knows-what and Coconut Moonbeam fragrance.’
  6. It helps if you shave. Look, I’m not against armpit hair on anyone of any gender. It’s hair, and it’s on you, so I don’t care. But this isn’t an aesthetic thing – natural deodorant actually works better if it’s applied to hairless skin. It gets to soak into your skin better without hair getting in the way. Since it’s a gentler product, you kinda have to give it a leg-up by making sure it has the best chance to come into contact with your actual skin, which is the part that’s sweating. Also, more hair = more body odor. Why fight an uphill battle?

Hopefully this will arm you (see what I did there?) with some knowledge before you up your natural-skincare game. You may need to try a few brands before you find one that works, but once you do, I hope you enjoy the results. Happy hunting!

Cold Season Skin Care

We’ve talked about seasonal skin care on here before, but I realized the other day, as I was nursing a cold, that there’s another type of skin care challenge that sort of ties in with that seasonal talk I already did:

How do you help your skin bounce back after you’ve been sick?

My cold-season skin arsenal.

For the purposes of this post, when I say ‘sick’ I mean a cold, the flu, allergies, etc. I would think that if I had something more serious than that I’d be much less concerned about my skin. But since most of us are likely to get one of those three illnesses at some point this winter (hopefully not all three!), I think it’s a good idea to go over some tips for helping take care of yourself on the outside while you fight off The Ick on the inside.

  1. Focus on getting healthy again. This means taking your meds if needed/doctor-approved, eating healthy, drinking tons of water, and resting. Not only will this help you get over your crud sooner, these are already good tips for healthy skin when you’re not sick. Get the basics handled, so that all the rest is easier.
  2. Up your moisture game. Your body is diverting all its fluids to helping fight off your cold, so not only do you need extra moisture inside, you need it outside too. Between decongestants that dry out your whole body – skin included – and blowing your nose every ten seconds, your face probably gets red, raw, and dried out, even if it’s normally oily. Add a nighttime moisturizer or sleep pack to your routine, or up your sheet mask frequency, to replenish what your skin is losing. Don’t forget your eye cream to reduce sneezing-related puffiness and dark circles. You can gently massage your under-eye area with some eye cream to break up some of the swelling.
  3. Stick to your skin routine as much as you can. I know, you’re tired and feel awful. But using what’s left of your energy to at least do your nighttime skin routine will keep your face from rebelling against you while you’re sick. You have my permission to skip a serum or mask step; I know you’re not up for it. If you’re taking lots of hot showers to open up your breathing passages, wash your face while you’re in there. Don’t forget your daily sunscreen, even if you are camped out on the couch. If nothing else, you’re maintaining a good habit so that you keep doing it after you’re back in action.
  4. Utilize essential oils. No, I don’t mean to cure your cold – pretty sure those claims are bogus. But all those oils I talked about for skin care can also be really soothing when you’re sick. Lavender helps you sleep if you put a drop on your pillowcase or a cotton ball, and my personal favorite for cold care is eucalyptus – I put some eucalyptus oil on a washrag and hung it in the shower, then got the water really hot. It basically created a vapor steam in my bathroom, and while the apartment smelled like a koala bear for days, it really helped calm my aches and wheezing to shower that way.

Cold and flu season is a pain, but there are good things already in your home that you can use to combat it and to help your skin bounce back sooner. This way, you’ll be feeling better AND you won’t have to hear people saying things like ‘Are you sick? You look tired.’ Nobody needs that while they’re getting over a cold.

The Great Breakout Experiment

If you follow my Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve recently had a nasty bout of stress-related acne, the likes of which I haven’t dealt with in over a year. Rather than bemoan my spotty fate, I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to use some skin care products I hadn’t had to use in a while.

All great experiments need a control – that is, a part of the experiment that’s either left alone or that you do what you’ve always done to it, so that you can compare the part you’re experimenting on to the control. Since I had at least six good-sized zits blooming on my chin, nose, and forehead (no I will not post photos, you’ll have to make do with my excellent descriptive writing skills), I had a pretty decent – and gross – sample size to work with. Time for some science!

Mythbusters Science

For the control pimples, I just popped them after I double-washed my face. I know, I know, it’s bad for your skin and you’re not supposed to, but dangit, they were Right. There. They needed to be popped, guys. I didn’t use my fingernails, because you damage your skin more if you do that, I just squeezed them with the pads of my fingers, cleaned off what came out, then dabbed a little tea tree oil on them to disinfect, because of course they were the kind that bleed a lot when you pop them. Sorry, did I warn you that there would be gross pimple-popping language in this post? Guess you know now!

For the other three, I applied three Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots. I had snagged them before my wedding in case of last-minute skin emergencies, but I’d only used one so far, while I was in Hawaii and the humidity had caused a single pimple to crop up. Well, this round was different. I was going to see if these bastiges were worth the money. I know PTR is a good brand, as I’ve used some of their body wash and shampoo before – they’re solid, so I had confidence in this product already.

I applied them after I’d put on my essence and eye cream, but before my moisturizer, which I applied around the dots. They’re tiny clear dots that look like Scotch tape, but they’re infused with tea tree oil (told you that stuff is gold), alpha-hyaluronic acid, and other goodies to dry out those nasty bumps and get them cleared away. Let’s break down how they performed:

  • Staying Power: A+. They stuck right to my oily, oily face, and didn’t budge all night. And I’m a toss-and-turn kind of sleeper, guys. I had to make an effort to peel them off in the morning.
  • Weird Burning or Tingling: Nope! It just felt like I had some tape on my face, and they’re so clear it took me a second to find them again the next morning. There was a very mild tingly feeling I got about twenty minutes after I put them on, but it subsided quickly.
  • Redness or Irritation: Nope again! Once I peeled them off, the irritation that was already there from the pimples had actually subsided. Obviously, these things contain adhesive, so if you’re allergic to that, this is likely not the product for you, but barring that, these actually reduced the redness on my face where they were stuck.
  • What About the Pimples? Greatly reduced. Like, noticeably improved, literally overnight. I was impressed. They were flatter, less red, less painful, and they looked like they’d go ahead and heal up without me having to pop them! Greatness.
  • How Did They Compare to Just Popping Them? No contest, the dots were a much better idea. The ones I popped were scabbed over the next day, so they were extremely noticeable – moreso than when they were just red and swollen, for sure – whereas the ones I’d put the dots on looked flatter and less visible. It took a lot more TLC to get the scabbing to come off gently than it did to finish letting the pimples I’d put the dots on finish going away.

Conclusion: Invisible Dots for the WIN. They’re easy to use, and yeah, they absolutely work. As an acne-prone person, I’m going to keep these in my skin care arsenal from here on out, and I recommend you do the same, if you have similar skin needs.

Making Friends as a Grownup

Remember making friends in college, Fledglings? It was so easy. You’d literally just walk into the dorm-hall lobby or the cafeteria and sit down next to someone, and you’d make a friend. Forging new friendships in college required nothing more than physically leaving your room.

Well, thirteen years on from starting college, I’m here to tell you that that will be the absolute easiest time you will EVER have making new friends. Making friends as a grownup with a full-time job and relatives that need your time and attention and a partner you want to spend alone time with, is ridiculously hard to pull off. This is mainly because all the people you could be friends with right now – they also have all those demands on their time. It’s not easy out there, guys.

When I moved to west Texas from the DFW Metroplex, I knew I was leaving behind friends I’d had for at least a decade. I was sad about that, but I was also excited for a new adventure, and let’s face it, the whole ‘too many time constraints to hang with your friends’ thing was absolutely still a factor in my life in DFW. We just didn’t hang out as often as we had when I was 22, single, and functionally unemployed.

So what’s a busy birdie to do when she finds herself in a new place and in need of people to hang out with? I’ve lived here about a year and a half, and I think I’m getting the hang of it now. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Be Where The People Are. Yes, just like Ariel, you wanna be where the people are. If you’re looking for new friends to do things with, it behooves you to show up to places where people are already doing things you like. That way, even if you don’t make new friends, at least you’re getting out and doing something you think is fun. If you enjoy yoga, sign up for a yoga class – other people who like yoga take yoga classes! If you’re an artist, see what the local museums are up to and set yourself up to run into other art-lovers! If you love animals, see if your shelter takes volunteers for adoption events and hang out with other people who love animals! Going through something with other people is how friendships are forged – it’s why college is so great for forming friendships. But taking the same class or volunteering for the same organization can have a similar effect on people.
  2. Be Forthcoming. If you’re new in town and want to make friends, tell people that. I know it feels like you’re coming off as a giant dork, but it’s so easy for grownups to assume that people they meet already have social lives, and we forget to initiate those friendship-having things we all want to do together. If you’re the one wanting friends, you’ll have to speak up. Ask someone if they want to grab dinner, or share a ride to the next cat-adoption event – after you get to know them a little, obviously. They probably didn’t even know you’re short on socializing, so you suggesting something is the best way to make it happen.
  3. Be Patient. This is a big one: remember how I mentioned all those obligations we have now? Remember how I also mentioned that the people we want to be friends with also have those obligations? Yeah, scheduling a meetup is going to be hard. Schedules change, nobody has the same free evenings, last-minute work/child/home situations happen to scupper best-laid plans. Don’t get disappointed or assume people don’t like you because they keep having to reschedule – just keep trying. Give it some down-time in between, so you’re not annoying people, but if something fell through, try and reschedule as soon as you can. If you don’t put the effort in to make it happen, it becomes all to easy to end up at home every night for weeks on end. I wish events and happenings would just materialize like they did back in college, but I’ve found that it’s not nearly that easy anymore. The only way I’ve been able to make it work is to keep scheduling things, and then scheduling them again when they fall through. It gets tedious and frustrating sometimes, but so does sitting at home all the time, and at least rescheduling gives you a chance of doing something fun with your day.
  4. Be Flexible. Your hangouts may not look like you’re used to them looking, and it’s important to roll with it and focus on having fun. Your friend might need to bring their kid along on your Starbucks date. You might need your friends to come to you because you’re waiting on a delivery. Your friend’s wife might be switching to a night shift, so they can’t hang out before 7PM. These things happen, and it’s important to adjust your expectations so you can still get your social on, rather than canceling because it’s not going to be the exact hangout you wanted to have. Don’t pass up on seeing friends just because the venue/guest list/activities have changed – your friends are still there, right? Go to the thing to see them and to catch up on their lives. If you’re with good people, you’ll probably end up having fun anyway.

It’s so easy to get used to our socializing being an epic event where everyone can do whatever they want for however long they want, and all that fun is just free for the taking. The reality of being out of college and in the whole employed/partnered/responsible world has been a big change for me, and it probably is for you too, because we all have SO MUCH going on. Fun is still necessary, but now it has to be scheduled, and everyone is going to need to compromise at least a little, and it might not work out the first time you try and get together. That’s okay, I promise. When the stars align and you do end up having a fantastic time with your friends, you’ll remember why you put in all that effort, because it will be 100% worth it.