Thinking Bob Cards against Humanity Social

My biggest complaint when I arrived in London is that if I wasn’t into sports or drinking, how was I supposed to make friends? I had no interest in spending £100 getting wrecked as I crawled from dirty pub to identical dirty pub, and after my one attempt at a netball game it was clear to red, sweaty, out of breath me that I was going to make no friends that way. It seemed like all the things I wanted to do, all the things I enjoyed doing, you already needed friends for.

I wanted dinner buddies, but you can’t just go and creeper yourself onto someone else’s table at a restaurant. I wanted someone to go to shows with but apparently when you stand on the street shouting about tickets people think you are a scalper and you get moved along by the met police. I wanted someone to go to Escape Rooms with but when you tell strangers you are going to lock them in a room and they have to fight to get out…people either pretend to get a phone call and back away slowly or write the script for the Hunger Games. I felt like my inability to make friends meant there was something wrong with me. I didn’t even consider that I just hadn’t found my ideal friend making set up yet.

Thinking Bob what will always get you laid

A company called Thinking Bob got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to come along and try one of their events, they claimed their socials were a great way to meet people in London. To say I was skeptical was an understatement. I have been to friendship ‘networking’ things before and what inevitably happens is that within five minutes cliques form and you walk out feeling lonely having left your self-esteem on the sticky bar floor. I just couldn’t see how Thinking Bob could be any different, it is just human nature to cling onto the people you know and because of that any friendship events are doomed to fail.

And that was the brilliantly cheery state of mind that I walked into the Thinking Bob event with. Oh and I should mention this event was a Cards against Humanity tournament, how better to make friends than to offend 35 strangers at once?

Ok first shock was someone coming up to me and saying hello – which I guess just shows I’ve been living in London too long. A human person? Being outwardly friendly? WHAT DO I DO? Remembering what Barney the Dinosaur used to sing about, I smiled back and said hello. This appeared to be the correct action because he kept smiling and talking to me. Get it together Rebecca, you can do this.

Thinking Bob Cards against Humanity

This weirdness kept happening, as my potential future best friends arrived everyone was just going up to strangers and chatting…WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE. I was so damned shocked that this event was actually functioning as a way to meet people. I mean, 20 minutes in and I hadn’t looked at Twitter once. I think the way Thinking Bob manages to work this magic is to host specific events for new members, so everyone is on the same page. Seriously people who knew each other were not hanging in a corner sneering, they were deliberately going up and meeting other people. This may be the holy grail of friendly Londoners.

After all my hard work making new friends it was all potentially to be for naught, we were about to play Cards Against Humanity – nothing ruins a blossoming friendship like Daniel Radcliffe’s delicious arsehole. To say things started with a bang was an understatement, I had the black card first up and the question that I asked six strangers was “how did I lose my virginity”. Turns out six strangers can read you quite well and of course the wining answer was “the entire cast of Downton Abby” – don’t judge, it’s a London thing.

Thinking Bob Cards against Humanity event

Over the course of the evening, to make sure to offend everyone possible, we changed tables every half hour. It was just like a games night with your oldest buds, nothing was off limits and we happily moved from perfunctory foreplay to Stephen Hawking talking dirty. Of course being me I had one too many red wines, but even without the drunken love for the world I would have left smiling (both from the meeting new people thing, but also because I now know the correct way to use the phrase pixelated bukkake).

I wish that I had discovered Thinking Bob when I first moved to London – these are my people. How it works is that you become a member (membership costs between £9 and £19 a month) and that gives you access to events pretty much every night of the week. I mean most of the events are not quite as offensive as the Cards Against Humanity playoffs, there are dinners, escape rooms, pub crawls, museums tours, book clubs, treasure hunts and one rather concerning called ‘the magic of maths’? The events are mostly under £5 to book and are hosted by a Thinking Bob person so you know you won’t end up standing in the corner like a dork.

All these years I have been lamenting that there were no ways to make friends in London if you weren’t into sports or drinking. It has meant that stalking people online was my only real option, and my police record just can’t take any more charges. If you are new to London, want to make more friends or are just bored and want fun stuff to do during the week I can’t recommend Thinking Bob highly enough.

Thanks to Thinking Bob for sponsoring this post, all opinions are my own.

So youve decided to move to London oh

How to make friends in London

Forget the cold, forget the weird use of the word ‘pants’, the biggest shock for everyone arriving in London is the sudden and overwhelming lack of friends. After a month or so, when no friends just magically appear out of the pavement, the shocked newbie-expats cry “but how do you make friends in London?”

Yes, turns out that 20 something years of life has not taught us anything about finding friends as grownups. Recently over 100 of you lovely readers filled out my Great Expat Survey. There are a lot of interesting things in there, but the biggest outcry was about being lonely in London. About having no friends and no idea where to start looking for them. So many Kiwis, lonely and desperate for some connection.

So how did the people who took the survey make friends?

Friends from home moved to London at the same time 32%
I was the creeper who made friends at work 16%
Oh god I haven’t and I’m so lonely PLEASE HELP 14%
Housemates become friends after enough gins 7%
I turned native and made friends in the pub 7%
Meetups and social media stalking 6%
Kiwis in London Facebook group or drinks 4%
Went on a tour and all I came back with was these lousy friends 4%
What happens on Tinder does not always stay on Tinder 4%
Joined a sports team 3%
Church! 2%
Runawaykiwi kept forcing me to go on strange dining experiences 1%

A complete mixed bag of attempted friend making. About a third were lucky enough to come over with friends and the rest are just running around London screaming BE MY FRIEND at strangers, scaring pigeons as they go.

We have got to do something about this, just for the sake of the pigeons. So sit the fuck down, take a shot, breath deep and get ready for this Runawaykiwi’s thoughts on making friends in London.

My biggest piece of advice is rather annoyingly an old proverb: make hay while the sun shines. There you are being all independent and badass, rocking London on your own; who needs friends right? I can’t guarantee many things in life, but needing someone to pick you up when you are down is one of them. The problem being, once you are down you are not in a great position to go out of your way to make friends.

While you are excited, well rested or drunk is the best time to try and find some friends. Just think of those confident magnetic people from high school, pretend you are one of them and invite some randoms (aka soon to be best friends) to go and explore London. If you are currently happy you really have nothing to lose, use even the vaguest connections you have and try and spark something. I’m talking that person you knew in primary school, a friend of a friend, your 5th cousin or someone you have only met online or briefly at a meetup. Take that vague connection, mix it with some alcohol or a tourist attraction and see what happens.

Friends on the top of St Pauls

If you are down right now and just can’t force yourself to do something as scary as making friends? My top tip would be to book something for next month, or at least two weeks away. It’s distant enough to make booking seem like it will happen to someone else, and by the time it comes around you have no option but to force yourself out of the house and into the arms of a potential BFF.

The other thing you can do if it all feels too much right now and you need some connection is the magic of Twitter. I know Twitter isn’t really a thing in NZ, but over here it is all powerful. Yes there is a whole bunch of weirdness on there (mostly from me), but you just have to find your tribe. Only follow people who bring you joy, comfort and inspiration (with a nice mix between celebrities and plebs) and interact with them – its online so making that first step is less scary than real life. I think this is just an intermediary step though, you do need real life people eventually.

So where do you meet friends anyway? Another proverb to hit you with; your vibe attracts your tribe. I fucking hate hanging out in pubs; cafes are more my scene – so why on god’s green earth did I ever think I would meet people I wanted to hang out with by lingering at a bar? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to meet people if you are into that, I’m just not.

I would start by writing a list of all the things you enjoy. Not what your friends back home enjoy, not what social media says you should want to do on your OE, I’m talking the things that actually make you smile. Mine would go something along the lines of (according to the interest section of my CV):

  • Walking in parks
  • Reading
  • Sci-Fi
  • Jewellery making
  • Drinking coffee & gin (not at the same time)

That is a pretty introverted list, all the things I like doing are things I can do by myself and enjoy doing by myself. Yes even the gin drinking. The trick of making friends as an adult is to figure out how to fold other people into your introverted activities. Like reading? Join a book club. Like Sci-Fi? Go to a convention. Like drinking gin? Go to GinStock (yes there really is a gin festival).

None of these are an easy answer. As much as I would like to be able to click my fingers and get you friends I can’t. Every friendship you make as an adult demands some insane bravery and facing the prospect of rejection.

Aspire and admire

Oh rejection, why are we all so terrified of you? Imagine the worst case scenario of going out and trying to make friends. For me it is something like standing in a corner for an entire night, not talking to anyone and people giving me judging looks. Has that ever happened? Yes. Did it kill me? No. Was there a chance I could meet some friends there? Of course.

The weird thing with this whole making friends malarkey is that the short term awkwardness, the fear, can stop us ever trying or trying more than once. But my god the end goal is worth it, particularly if you are in London by yourself. You NEED a support network, you need someone to be there for the highs and lows, to travel with and drink with, to share the laughs and loves of London with. Being rejected ten times is worth it if you make one good friend out of it. Trust me.

Its not like you are the only one going through this. There are 200,000 kiwis in the UK and the majority of them had to suffer through the indignity of making friends as an adult just like you are. Hell, you are better off than most because in the age of the internet you have access to meet-ups and entire companies dedicated to helping people connect. You just have to think of this as equally as important as finding a job or a flat. Having the right people around you could make or break your London experience.

There is the possibility for a bit of a adulting hack as well. For the 1/3 of you that came over with friends, try riding on their coat tails. Find the one person you know that just does EVERYTHING and tag along. Invite yourself to that weird party they are going to, to the concert or hell even the running club. Use them as your easy buffer to social interaction and once through the door spread yourself through the people there like herpes through teenagers. Go with one friend and leave with two. Keep doing that and you will have a group of London chums in no time.

There is an argument for going outside your comfort zone too, for all I’ve talked about introvert friendly activities. Look into a weekend group tour or a typical Kiwis in London party. Yes it’s not something you are normally into, in fact you might be looking down your nose at it. The truth is that on that smelly bus or hovering on the side of the dance floor there might be another awkward friendless person, just like you. Outside their comfort zone, just like you. They could end up being a huge part of your life, you just have to go out of your way to find those friends.

Friends are worth the scary. Finding friends to share your London experience with are doubly so. Finding people to share your time with over here is not just a temporary focus, it will give you skills and resilience that you will carry with you forever.

It’s ridiculous how much of my time in London was spent wondering how to make friends. Wondering why everyone else found it so easy. But with four years of wisdom under my belt and a circle of friends so amazing they make me cry I can tell you it is worth it. So unbelievably worth it and necessary. Gird your loins, face the awkwardness and fear of rejection head on. Let’s fucking do this.

Moving to London is exhausting

Adore and Endure

Ok lovelies it’s time for my favourite things post. I was going to write my favourite things about Christmas in London, but its November so screw that I’M NOT JOHN LEWIS. Instead I thought I would write about something unbelievable close to my heart; my favourite things, the weirdos I surround myself with.

A lot is expected of girls these days. We have to be mothers and career driven, effortlessly sexy and comfortingly conservative, we have to have chosen both the red and blue pill in life and smile calmly while swallowing it all. But you know what? Despite it all? The girls are alright.

These beautiful freakish snowflakes that I am honoured to call my friends are being brave every day. They are struggling with made for TV movie type issues, stuff that none of us were prepped to handle. We don’t quite know how to adult yet. We fall apart, in the most explosive and sometimes entertaining ways but always find a way to put ourselves together again. The girls are gracious and humble but can swear like sailor to prove a point or just because saying fuck is fun. They are defensive and challenging and the most thoughtful friends a Runawaykiwi could have.

The girls are emotional but not weak, appreciative but not dependent and by god the girls are funny.

These favourite things of mine are always there, always ready to offer tea/gin/hugs as needed. And if that’s not enough? These girls will create an elaborate murder plot just to make you smile, and the best part is never being quite sure if they would follow through with it or not.

These girls have taken brave steps in their careers, not always the ones you would expect but the ones that are right for them. The girls value happy as much as they do drive and determination.

Friends like these are everything, they are not always right but will stand by your side as you are as wrong as wrong can be. You for sure don’t agree with everything, that would be far too boring. But the differences pail into comparison with the endless support, kindness, strength, friendly bullying, creative spark, love and laughter that are on offer.

I know when I moved to London the thought of making friends seemed like an abstract concept, after all how the hell do you make friends as an adult anyway? Well turns out you start blogging and join twitter, you find girls whose own little bit of madness fits into yours and you send them cat pictures.

Four years ago I was staying in London for my then favourite things; the food, art, culture, grey days and coffee. But now, my god my favourite things are just so much more everything, and most of the time they don’t even charge me to hang out with them.

Love you weirdos, you mean more to me than gin.

And for anyone out there thinking this level of meaningful awesome friendship is unobtainable? That new close friends just aren’t for you? Put yourself out there, find your weirdos…it will change and it will mean everything to you.

Blog Addicts Anonymous

I’m Rebecca, and I’m a blog addict.

I’m guilty of stalking cool kids off the internet and bribing them with coffee, gin or blackmail until they agree to be my friend.

I’m guilty of holding the phrase ‘I’m a blogger’ close to my heart, because it makes me so happy and tingle with pride.

I’m guilty of ordering something I don’t feel like at brunch just because it will look better on Instagram,

I’m guilty of feeling guilty when I don’t post regularly.

I’m guilty of using my blog as a therapy session; screaming at the internet sure does help to process emotions.

I’m guilty of threatening to murder people when they are mean to my blogging friends (or non-blogging friends to be honest).

I’m guilty of using gin to overcome the tyranny of the blank page.

I’m guilty of going to countless SEO talks and still not have a fucking clue about it.

I’m guilty of crying over the beautiful comments people leave.

I’m guilty of saying no to going out just because I have posts to write.

I’m guilty of loving this damn hobby way too much.