Write on: Meet you there

As a downtown resident, I know the drill.

If it’s a Tuesday, my commute home from work always means slowing and stopping to let Happy’s Running Club members jog past.

I don’t mind, though. One of the most charming parts of living downtown is watching the runners whirl past.

Some sprint swiftly by, others walk leisurely. Some pass by in groups, chatting with friends and family as they go. Others run solo. But they all have smiles on their faces.

One of my friends, who is not from Baton Rouge originally, credits the running club with helping her acclimate to her new home. She absolutely loves this city, and a big part of that is because of the people she met through the club.

I decided to try a run myself one Tuesday. I laced up my sneakers and joined the pack, tagging along with a different friend. We were clearly novices, because we lost the route and ended up making up our own path back to Happy’s.

But once we got there, we spent a few hours drinking beer and chatting with other runners. I met new faces and learned a few things about this city.

225’s cover story this month is quirky and fun. But I believe it is an important one.

Making friends as an adult is hard. When I moved to Baton Rouge three years ago, I knew no one. I was lucky to join a company full of friendly coworkers and find myself in a job that allows me to meet people.

Still, finding friends who you immediately feel close and comfortable with is a different story. The kind of pals who will tell you when your outfit looks bad or your jokes are lame, or will invite you over for a low-key night of watching American Horror Story. (Or who won’t mind drinking a beer with you when you’re all sweaty from a run!)

The older I get, the more difficult it seems to make those types of connections.

I met my best friend at our college freshman orientation, and we kind of just followed each other around for the next four years. It was never a “Would you like to hang out with me tonight?” situation with us. It was always “So, what are we doing tonight?”

More than 10 years later, I was a bridesmaid in her wedding.

I am part of a Facebook group for female journalists, and I’ve seen several posts from women asking for advice on coping with loneliness and tips for meeting people in cities they’ve moved to.   

But it is not just hard for transplants. What about locals whose closest friends move away? Or those who simply drift away from longtime friends?

That is why meetups and clubs are so powerful. Our team loved meeting the members of the organizations featured in this month’s cover story, who share common interests ranging from homebrewing to photography to plants. Even when we mixed the groups together for our cover shoot, it was instant camaraderie—everyone was laughing and sharing stories.

In our cover story, we shared info for more than 30 meetups in Baton Rouge. But if you finish reading and feel like you still haven’t found your fit, don’t give up.

And consider: There are ways to get connected in your community that go beyond the traditional after-work club.

Personally, one of my favorite ways to meet new people is by connecting with nonprofits doing work I believe in. In Baton Rouge, I am involved with the Futures Fund, an organization that teaches coding and photography to youth. I volunteered for a similar organization back home in South Florida, and back in college, I joined a community service fraternity.

Because it’s true what they say: What you get out of a community—or a friendship—all depends on what you put into it.

Reach Jennifer Tormo at [email protected].

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.