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Putting the Social Back in Social Clubs

It is often said that youth is wasted on the young. The free time, the relative lack of aches and pains, the sense of opportunity —it’s all sweeter with the benefit of hindsight. We adults could be forgiven for grumbling about all the things that young people take for granted (especially if we’re willing to acknowledge that we, too, were once those young people).

And there’s one more thing to add to the list: For most young people, making friends is as easy as pie. Even if you weren’t particularly socially inclined, your circumstances and activities placed potential friends in your lap. Soccer team. School. Camp. The list goes on and on. After college, however, those opportunities begin to dry up. Other than work (or a very fortunate home purchase next door to fabulous, outgoing people), there aren’t a lot of chances to meet people, let alone cultivate authentic relationships. Unless you’re pathologically gregarious and social, you need to be repeatedly placed in the same circumstances with someone else in order to turn an introduction into a lasting friendship.

A solution: Take a page from the kids. Put yourself in circumstances that will bring you together with likeminded people, over and over. Pick any hobby (or something you’d like to be a hobby) and join an organization centered around it. Think: wine clubs. Foreign language clubs. Or even a discussion club about your favorite author. (Think that’s too esoteric? Believe it or not, we have a committed G.K. Chesterton society at the University Club.)

And while club participation ensures that you already have something tangible in common with the people around you, there are other ways to meet people: Simply show up.

We’ve seen it work time and again at the Saint Paul Athletic Club and University Club of Saint Paul. Our members show up at Member Night. They show up at happy hour. They show up to enjoy the poolside patio in the summer. They show up at the Ice Martini bar and the Fezziwig Ball in winter. And over time, they see the same people and get to talking. The presence of a built-in activity (and breathtaking setting) provides automatic fodder for discussion. Introductions turn into acquaintances. Acquaintances turn into friends. It’s never too late.