It's hard to make friends (until you say hello) | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

29 September, 2014

It's hard to make friends (until you say hello)


Let's face it: It can be hard to make new friends as an adult, especially as you get older. Not impossible, but difficult, especially once you're out of school and settled into a routine that doesn't necessarily involve going out and partying every night. Where does one get new friends? Friends-R-Us? (Oh, the hilarity.)

Despite the social roadblocks, it is possible to meet new people by chance ... if you're open to it. Today I bring you a brief tale from my own life of social awkwardness, serendipity, and unexpected friendship. The kind of thing that only happened because I decided not to be a hermit and say "hello" to a stranger. Weird, but it does work once in a while.

Most of you reading probably don't know this, but I went to grad school in Scotland. Glasgow, more specifically. I arrived three weeks before the start of my course to get "settled in" ... unsettled in would probably be a better way to describe it, as I suddenly found myself living in a country I'd never even visited before, not knowing a soul, with nothing to do, and no one to keep me company except for the oversized beige sofas that came with my rental apartment. Oh, and I was pretty jet-lagged too. Weird times, man.

Suddenly going from working five or six days a week in the US to doing nothing but sitting around hugging Big Beige and Baby Beige (my sofa and loveseat, respectively) made me feel a little insane, so I decided to do two things:
  • Wander around the city on foot endlessly until I either (a) figured out where everything ever was, or (b) found somebody (anybody) to talk to. 
  • Attend some new student/international student mixers. This is the kind of thing I would normally avoid, being the antisocial sort that I am, but I was growing rather tired of Big Beige's lackadaisical attitude, so out I went.

I attended the first event I heard about, which happened to be a cèilidh just for new students. I must not have known what a cèilidh was at the time or that that was going to be part of it, because if I had I surely would have avoided it. If you're not familiar, "cèilidh" usually refers to an event involving traditional music and dancing—fun to watch, but oh-so-awkward to participate in for the socially inept amongst us. I veered myself away from the dance floor and towards a table with a couple of empty seats. There were some other students sitting there.

"Hello." I said. They stared at me. So not as friendly as Big Beige, I take it.

I decided to get up and walk around some more. There was a guy wandering around in the hall, snapping pictures of the ceiling ... much more my speed. I watched him for a minute and decided to attempt human contact.

"Hello!" I said. "Are you taking pictures of the ceiling?" (That's as good an icebreaker as any, right?)

He muttered something about architecture and then said "Actually, I don't really know what I'm supposed to be doing here."

"Me neither."

"Oh." We both laughed and chatted for a couple of minutes. Where are you from? What are you studying? That sort of stuff. After a while it got too noisy, so I decided to leave, saying "Nice to meet you" or whatever. I figured I'd never see this guy again—big university, studying a different subject. But it was nice to chat for a bit.

A couple of days later, I decided to attend a seminar for new international students. Did I really need to hear a lecture about the university library and how to use money in the UK? No, but again, human contact prevents actual insanity. This thing was held in a big lecture hall—lots of international students, I gathered. I found my way to the closest empty seat and sat down. I looked to my right, and guess who was sitting there? Ceiling Guy.

"Hi!" I said. He looked up in surprise and said hello back. We probably would have chatted a bit longer, except the lecture started and we found ourselves absorbing all of the totally fascinating facts for new students. (Like for example, did you know that it's easier to pay your bills if you open a bank account in the local currency? MIND-BLOWING!)

I can't remember precisely what happened after that—maybe I passed out in my chair due to the lecture. But what I do remember is wandering around different parts of the city on foot for quite a long time the next day, when I ran into—you guessed it—Ceiling Guy. He saw me too and we laughed and waved as we passed at each other. We're already dealing with a pretty high percentage of coincidences here, so when I randomly ran into the guy again in a different part of the city a couple o days later (yeah, really!) I decided to stop and talk to him.

"Hello again!" I said. "What are you doing?"

"I'm just ... wandering around. I don't really know what else to do."

"Me neither." Awkward pause. "Want to wander around together?"

... and thus began an actual, genuine friendship. We ended up meeting regularly at cafes just to chat, sucking down sweets and coffees until our bodies began to shake. (If you spend that much time nattering with someone, you're bound to get to know them, at least a little bit.) And we still keep in touch a bit, even though several years have passed and we live in far-flung parts of the world. It's incredibly unlikely that we ever would have even met had I not chosen to say "Hello!" instead of fleeing into the night, so I guess the moral of this story (if there is one) is that it's a good idea to initiate contact with new human beings once in a while. You never know what's going to happen, and don't even really need a reason. And for the love of all that's decent, don't talk to your sofa. (Seriously. It can't be trusted.)

Looking for a fun way to say connect with an old friend? Check out Lindt HELLO Chocolate—the packaging is so festive, perfect for a care package or gift bag. Nothing better than opening up a big box of HELLOs, I reckon.

Lindt HELLO is available in bar, stick, and mini-stick form—look for it in the following tasty flavors:
  • Caramel Brownie
  • Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Crunchy Nougat
  • Cookies & Cream

Mwah! And if you're a fan of Lindt Chocolate, be sure to check out their Sweet Connections Sweepstakes*. There are several prizes to be won:
  • Week of 9/24-9/30: Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Enjoy a shopping spree with the girls + yummy Lindt HELLO Chocolate!
  • Week of 10/1-10/7: Sweet Staycation. Lindt HELLO treats you to a pampered night in – movies, books + chocolate!
  • Week of 10/8-10/14: Besties Reunion. Reconnect with your bestie at the spa for a day + Lindt HELLO chocolate to sweeten the deal.

You can enter daily for additional choices to win, so make sure to bookmark this page and try again!

If you're a fan of serendipitous tales of chance meetings, be sure to also check out Lindt's “It Started with HELLO” web series, co-produced with Ashley Tisdale. It's a romantic comedy series featuring couples making their first connections, and there are new episodes being added every week between September 12th and October 9th, so make sure to check back for more!

Have you ever made a friendship just by introducing yourself to a random person? How do you meet new people?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Lindt Chocolate, however any opinions expressed above are honest and my own. I will earn a commission if you click on the links above. For more information, check out my full disclosure policy.

* No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 years or older (19 in AL or NE and 21 in MS).  Void where prohibited. See Rules at  for weekly sweepstakes entry periods, prize descriptions, odds and other details. Ends Noon on 10/14/14. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc., One Fine Chocolate Place, Stratham, NH  03885. #ItStartedWithHello


  1. The story is so cute! haha! Are you still friends with him? Ooh! And that chocolate sounds yummy!

  2. Yes! We live very very far away with each other, but we still keep in touch on Facebook and stuff like that. :)

  3. This is so relevant right now... since I'm studying abroad I only know 5 people who are in my program, and we are all in different classes. Literally the only way I've made friends here is just by going to events, and approaching people and saying, "Hi, my name is Zoe!" Such a cute story!

  4. That can definitely be difficult! I ended up making friends with some of the other students in my program too, but it was kind of small so I had to get a bit "creative" to meet new people at times, heh. It can't hurt to approach random people in that situation ... I'm sure there are lots of other exchange students in the exact same boat as you. :)

  5. What a cute story. I too hate awkward social settings when I don't know anyone. But all that you are saying is totally true. The Lindt Hello chocolates in Cookies and Cream are soooo good!

  6. Haha yeah, I never know what to say. Some people are totally open and friendly when a stranger approaches them, and others look at you like "Why are you talking to me?" Never hurts to try, I guess.

  7. Your story is super sweet. I'm totally guilty of shying away and avoiding any and all opportunities to say hi to new people. I used to be way more outgoing (almost obnoxiously so), but these last few years I've become way too shy to function on most days. I think your story is a good example of why I should step out of my shell again and meet new people. :D
    Also, I love Lindt chocolate. All four of those flavours sound like winners to me!

  8. I have no idea why I chose to read this one today but the story was cute, I love that you named him Ceiling Guy (even if only for the purposes of the story) and I want to try that cheesecake bar now :P

  9. Super cute story that just let me craving chocolate like crazy! LOL ;)

  10. I had a few of these flavors and I recommend Popcorn! They are all really tasty but that one is my favorite. And yes I picked it up because of the packaging :)

  11. Thanks! I've found that happening to me too ... I used to be able to initiate a conversation with ANYONE but now it feels more difficult somehow. Nothing has really changed so I just need to get over myself. :P Getting hyper on chocolate would probably help, I'm sure of it! ;)

  12. Hahaha. I'll fess up here and say that it often takes me a couple of meets to remember people's names, but whenever I meet them they always get a nickname in my head. Like "Oh, it's orange sweater guy" or "Hey, it's angry fish tattoo girl." But anyway, if the cheesecake bar is speaking to you you should try it! The "stick" bars were only 99c at my Target.

  13. Haha thanks! I always love a *sweet* ending. ;)

  14. Popcorn?! I didn't see that one. Maybe my store didn't have it. That does sound good though!

  15. That's a great story! I've been better about not being antisocial, but it's a hard habit to break. Most people seem to love it when another person is interested in them enough to start a conversation.

  16. I suppose that's true! Also, a lot of people really love talking about themselves in general, so finding new people who haven't heard all their stories before is probably fun. :P

  17. This is such a great story! I love it. Also, I'm not going to lie, your dinosaur picture makes me squeal with happiness!

  18. Thanks! If you like the dinosaurs, you should stay tuned ... they pop up here every now and then. :)


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