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  1. #1

    Ways/places to meet people in a VERY small town?

    I moved to a very, very small town this year. We have no Barnes and Noble type stores, and one mom and pop coffee shop. Many people are in colleges here. I know this is a common problem, but here is my situation.

    Me:
    - 24 years old: I feel weird hanging out at the 18 year old bars, and would feel very uncomfortable trying to go to a frat party or something collegiate.
    - Grad student, but many classes are online and I am not as "serious" into academia as some grad. students (I make the grades, but avoid the stress.)
    - There are extremely few non-collegiate social or community service groups here. Things are either collegiate, or for old people.

    With that said, I really want genuine friendships (who doesn't?), and don't know that I can find that in a bar. Heck, there are probably only 3 bars in this town.

    Places to meet people:
    - classes, if not online classes
    - one of the handful of bars/restaurants/the one bookstore in town
    - churches
    - ???

    Any more ideas? I don't feel like I fit into the college life, but don't fit into some of the "professional organizations" or age groups either. I've never lived in a town this small before and am stuck. I couldn't find anything for the town on meetup.com, and I'm not sure where else to look. I've tried posting on Web sites, but haven't gotten sane responses.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    On an island
    Posts
    15,836
    When I was in grad school, I became friendly with a couple people in my classes. We used to go out for drinks and food and such. I think you just need to try to put yourself out there. I am sure there are some people in a similar boat, or at least interested in expanding their friendship circle.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    The Oregon Trail
    Posts
    42,345
    Quote Originally Posted by okielahoma
    I moved to a very, very small town this year. We have no Barnes and Noble type stores, and one mom and pop coffee shop. Many people are in colleges here. I know this is a common problem, but here is my situation.

    Me:
    - 24 years old: I feel weird hanging out at the 18 year old bars, and would feel very uncomfortable trying to go to a frat party or something collegiate.
    - Grad student, but many classes are online and I am not as "serious" into academia as some grad. students (I make the grades, but avoid the stress.)
    - There are extremely few non-collegiate social or community service groups here. Things are either collegiate, or for old people.

    With that said, I really want genuine friendships (who doesn't?), and don't know that I can find that in a bar. Heck, there are probably only 3 bars in this town.

    Places to meet people:
    - classes, if not online classes
    - one of the handful of bars/restaurants/the one bookstore in town
    - churches
    - ???

    Any more ideas? I don't feel like I fit into the college life, but don't fit into some of the "professional organizations" or age groups either. I've never lived in a town this small before and am stuck. I couldn't find anything for the town on meetup.com, and I'm not sure where else to look. I've tried posting on Web sites, but haven't gotten sane responses.

    Out of curiosity, how small are you talking? It's always interesting to me as a person whose hometown has a population of 350 people to know what constitutes "small town" to various people.

    In any case, I spent the past six years (i.e. age 24 to age 30) living and working in a neighboring town to the village I grew up in, which had about 7,000 people in it. It was about 45 miles from the nearest university town (i.e. closest large collection of people under 30), about 60 miles from anyplace with any variety of actual nightlife that appeals to adults past the college scene age, and a 2-3 hour drive to the nearest large urban metropolis (about 9 million in the metro).

    There were essentially very, very few people in their twenties, most people leave town when they are that age and move elsewhere; they may or may not move back when they have families of their own, and want a pleasant, family-friendly small-town environment to raise them in. The few young people there were there were mostly there because they'd already started families, so they weren't necessarily in the same place as a single 20-something. The closest meetup group to where I lived was about 40 miles away, and it was for chihuahua owners. So, no dice.

    What I did to make my time spent living there pleasant and enjoyable (and, really, it was...but bear in mind that I grew up in the country, so I have a deeply ingrained love of small places - even though I'd lived in a large city in the interim, living rurally wasn't at all new to me/didn't require much by way of getting used to):

    1. Cultivated an interest in solitary activities...if there aren't many people around, you really need to learn to enjoy your own company.

    2. Made friends outside my age group. One of my best friends in the area was a coworker who was in hear early 50s, very cool, progressive woman whose values, interests, and sense of humor I shared. It's easy to get lulled into the cliche that you can't be friends with people who aren't your age, but it's not really true.

    3. Spent a lot of time with family, since most of mine were in the area. I really cherish that I had that many years in my twenties to spend quality time with my family as an adult.

    4. Did a LOT of online dating, which helped me meet guys in surrounding communities, who I wouldn't have met otherwise. Also did a lot of messageboard/forum participating, since if you don't have that many people to hang out with in real life, virtually hanging out with new friends is the next best thing.

    5. Focused in large part on my work, which was okay, since I enjoyed my work a great deal, and due to the nature of it (newspaper reporter) it allowed me to meet lots of people.

    6. Saved up money (easier to do since it was low cost of living), and spent the money traveling around the country when I could take vacation days, visiting friends who lived other places and family.
    Last edited by wordsmith; 02-01-2008 at 08:37 PM.
    "Even when I've f*&%ed up, I've spun it into a learning experience that's brought me to bigger and better things."

  4. #4
    Well, I volunteered abroad for a year and lived in a small crappy village. I won't name the country just in case someone from there happens to read it I don't want to offend them. But the village really had NOTHING (not even running water), all people my age (20's) went to college in the cities. so that left me with high school students, or older folks. There were people my age 23-24 but they were usually married and had young children so I couldn't exactly kick it with them. Surprisingly I found myself becoming good friends with people I usually wouldn't even associate with in the US. People who were 16-17 and 40+. There was nothing to do so I created stuff to do. I would play sports, music with people. I would go running (not very common there) people would stare at me at first but then I'd invite them along and they would come! After awhile I felt comfortable just talking with these people. But regardless I still had lots of time on my hands so I would read alot, play guitar alone, or just go on walks and explore.

    Just make an effort to get something started you'll find there are lots of people like you who share similar interests. Even in small towns.

  5. #5
    Heh, Words asked exactly what I was wondering. I graduated in a town that had a population of 171, hung out in the neighboring town of less than 10k, then went to college in a town with less than 200k. So, small is relative.

    I didn't bother with trying to form out of school relationships with my high school peers. They were too busy praying, working, and doing the family thing every night. So, I cruised the neighboring town. I met a ton of people who were in my position, just by being around the same places. I don't recommed this over the age of 18, though. You just look creepy.

    My college town was about 150k, in city limits. I started out hanging out with my peer group, then eventually graduated to hanging out with other people. They pretty much hung out in similar spots. My older friends hung out at bars that were more geared towards the pub atmosphere or were more pool halls than anything else. While people more my age were going to clubs.

    I think there's a weird miscommunication with those designations. To me, and what I think is closer to how people in my area might define things are like this.

    -Bars are places where they play music and might have bands, but it's geared towards drinking and talking. Dancing may occur, but isn't the standard thing going on. You can talk in a bar.
    -Clubs are for dancing, as well as drinking. Can't really talk in a club.
    -Pubs are for drinking, with background noise (music, a game, etc) Talking is key.
    -Pool hall. You drink, play pool, darts, and listen to a random sat. station or the jukebox.

    When I was post college age, I still hung out with several people who were 18ish. It all depended on how mature they acted at places if I hung out with them again. I gave them a bit of slack and let them know if they were being dumb at places. If they heeded my advice, that was fine. If they didn't, I didn't bother with them.

    I do have to say that I'm a kind of odd duck, I guess. I was hanging out with people in their late 20s when I was 16, so maybe I'm a bad judge.


    I do have to say, when I was in college, I hung out with mostly older people. I was 19 and my social peer group was around 22-25. You can't usually figure out how old people are by sight.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Not Baltimore, contrary to popular belief
    Posts
    11,781
    I've always hung out with older people too; I've always understood them better. I live near a small town of 3200, and I've always joked that there's nothing to do here except drink and cook meth. That's closer to the truth than I wish to admit.

    I live near a college town of 17,000; I went to school there. Problem was, there was no dating life there. My alma mater was (and still is) 70% male and literally half of the women there didn't speak English. Almost nobody stayed there on weekends; they hung out in bigger towns, usually the much bigger college town 90 miles north. If they did stay, they drank themselves silly. According to their haughty attitudes, that's all there was to do. There was usually one or two deaths a year due to alcohol poisoning.

    I personally have never really tried to maintain friendships here. Intellectually, culturally and politically, most people here are almost nothing like me. For the last four or so years, I've gone to the large metro area (2.7 million) 80 miles northeast of here to do things. I'm trying to move there now; there's nothing for me here.

    I know about old people in small towns. Most of the members of my local Democratic organization are over 70, some considerably so. Meanwhile, our Republican state representative is 27. Most of the local civic organizations are controlled by the rather arrogant upper crust of town. Which is fine; I never wanted to play their reindeer games anyway.

    For the original poster, considering your town has a bookstore and a small coffee shop, you already have two things in your favor, I would say. My town doesn't have a bookstore, and we didn't have a coffee shop until about a month ago. Why not make friends with the workers at the bookstore? From my experience, people who work in small bookstores want to be there. Might be a good place to start.

    Paul
    I've always been different, with one foot over the line
    Winding up somewhere one step ahead or behind
    It ain't been so easy, but I guess I shouldn't complain
    I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane

    I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane
    Nobody knows if it's something to bless or to blame
    So far, I ain't found a rhyme or a reason to change
    I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane

    I've Always Been Crazy, Waylon Jennings (1978)

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