The Importance Of Reaching Out Online

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve struggled to make friends since moving to the North East. I work from home, I didn’t go to school or uni here and Sunderland isn’t exactly the type of city that lots of young people move to, so there are very few ladies here in the same position as me. That position is of course, being a Billy No Mates. The vast majority of women my age here already have friends, who they’ve grown up with. They don’t need newbies like me trying to penetrate their clique, so that leaves me at a bit of a loss on the friends front.

If you also moved somewhere that isn’t one of the usual bright-light cities that twenty-somethings flock to after uni, you’ll probably know where I’m coming from.

Making friends in your twenties is tough, particularly if you don’t have an office full of colleagues at your disposal as potential pals. What’s a gal to do?

I remember the first time I made the move here from Edinburgh. I’d gone from having all of these ready-made uni mates living a stone’s throw away from me, who I’d bump into effortlessly around the library or see at parties, to basically finding myself in a strange city where I knew nobody.

It sucked.

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

Cropped loungewear set – £30

When I moved to Dubai, it was surprisingly easy to make friends. The thing about Dubai, and I imagine this can also be applied to London to a certain extent, is that almost everybody in the same age bracket as you is in the same boat. In cities that lots of people move to in an effort to make their dreams come true, you’re all in it together. In Dubai, we were all just displaced souls trying to have a good time, and there were constant meet-ups planned in expat Facebook groups. I had this whole gang of girlfriends I could meet for coffee, drinks, exercise classes or whatever. In a way, it was like going back to uni.

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

Now that I’m back in the North East of England for the long haul, I’m really trying to make an effort to meet people. After all, everybody needs a support network – even certified loners like me.

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

The trouble is that I’m a chronic introvert (I feel like most bloggers are?) and have this really bad habit of waiting for potential friends to approach me, rather than me making the first move. It’s like I’m playing hard to get with would-be soulmates, except I’m the one who ends up missing out. My own aloofness isn’t doing me any favours.

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

Faux fur parka – reduced to £50

With no colleagues and very few actual contacts in the North East, I’ve realised that the only way to make friends in this strange (no offence, Sunderland) city is to reach out and proposition them! I plan to start virtually lunging at girls I like the look of by sliding into their Instagram DMs like some kind of overconfident male sleaze ball. Hopefully though, my advances will be more welcome than those of your typical deluded Insta-creep.

I think it’s taken me a while to realise that this is kind of just the done thing these days, especially among those of us who work online. On all of my most recent work trips, I’ve clocked people mentioning friends they met on Instagram, and it made me realise that it’s not all that weird to turn your internet friends into real-life friends.

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

To be honest, when I first started getting friendly little coffee invitations on Instagram from local girls who I had a ‘like’ relationship with, I thought they were being a bit weird and over-friendly. Like, why would I want to meet some stranger from Instagram when the extent of our relationship to date is liking each other’s holiday pics?

Umm, because you’d probably get on, and you don’t exactly have a squad of mates lining up to have coffee with you, you antisocial so-and-so.

Considering the fact that I’ve worked in the digital industry for the past few years, I’m surprisingly wary of Strangers On The Internet. I’d never have gone on a Tinder date back when I was single, because I just thought it was all too forced (no judgement, that’s just my personal opinion). Similarly, I always thought it was a bit overzealous to just strike up a conversation in an Instagrammer’s DMs. But that’s a mindset that holds me back, especially in a digital space that’s becoming more and more personable.

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

And so, I’ve been trying hard to overcome my aversion to strangers and actually meeting some of them. And you know what? It’s been great!

I have coffee and catch-ups with Tasha from Hello Freckles, and I’ve been shooting and for lunch with Alice from Zest of Alice. They’re both lovely gals, and it’s really nice to not only have someone to meet up with in my new city, but to have a shared interest in blogging. Plus, it’s nice to have someone else other than my poor boyfriend to take outfit pics for me! Now, it’s all fair because I can return the favour for fellow bloggers.

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

This week, I reconnected with the lovely Katie Meehan, a killer beauty blogger who I actually met at one of my first-ever blogging events, back when I moved to the North East the first time around. A few years on, Katie and I had a little day out in Sunderland, with coffee at the one and only cute coffee shop I know of here, and then we headed to Winter Gardens, where Katie took these pictures of me. I’m terrible at posing for the camera, but Katie’s a pro and made me feel so at ease.

It was so great to catch up with Katie, especially because we met at the beginning of our blogging careers so we can both appreciate how far we’ve come and how much the industry itself has changed.

I love these pictures she snapped of me in my Misspap parka. It’s genuinely the cosiest, most stylish jacket I own at the minute – and I own a lot of coats. A woman can never have too many, right?

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

Cropped tracksuit is also from Misspap and the gold boots were £8 from Primark!

I suppose what I want to get across is that sometimes, being bold and reaching out to local people online is the only way to forge new friendships in your twenties, especially for those of us who have wound up in less dynamic cities. I guess this mainly applies to bloggers, but I’d be interested to know whether anyone outside of the industry has found social media useful for making friends, rather than just keeping in touch with existing ones?

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

One of my resolutions for next year is to start chatting more to people whose work I admire online, and hopefully plucking up the courage to invite someone for a real-life chat! I feel like a newly-divorced, middle-aged woman who is getting ready to make her first steps back onto the dating scene.

Wish me luck!

MISS PAP TRACKSUIT

Do you have any true friends who you met online? I’d love to hear a few success stories!

This post is a collaboration with Miss Pap.

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18 Comments

  1. December 22, 2017 / 8:11 am

    I’m an introvert and have always struggled to make friends in the “usual” way so I’m very thankful for the internet, most of my friendships were made there! One of my closest friends I initsialy met on MySpace back in the day and I met my hisband when I was blogging about weight loss and he started commenting on my posts!

    When I moved to the North East I was the same, I knew no one and I really didn’t gel with the girls in my office. I used to go home and cry because I had no girlfriends! I’m so thankful for the internet because I met every single friend through blogging and now have a great network of friends that I can call on at any time. There are definitely some lovely local ladies to meet up with on the internet x

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:43 pm

      Wow, I love that that’s how you met your husband Chloe – a modern-day fairytale! <3

      I can definitely relate, when I worked a 'real' job in the North East I was so disappointed because everyone in my office already had their friends and I didn't really fit in anywhere, which sucked cos it was kind of my only hope. It's so nice to hear you've found a good group! x

  2. December 22, 2017 / 9:08 am

    Some of my closest friends are people I’ve met through blogging – initially through commenting on blogs/social media and then through putting a face to a name at a blogging event and then it moved to meeting up outside of blogging.

    Xx

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:40 pm

      I hear this more and more from people these days! It’s so encouraging but does make me kick myself for not putting myself out there a bit more earlier haha. You seem to have a lovely network! xx

  3. December 22, 2017 / 9:11 am

    Always up for coffee and/or cocktails in Newcastle! xx

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      December 22, 2017 / 9:31 am

      Yes let’s do it in the new year! xx

  4. December 22, 2017 / 9:36 am

    I love this post! It’s not just when you move to a new city that it’s hard to make friends,I’m from the north east and I’ve lived in Newcastle for 12 years since I came here for uni. Lots of my friends have moved away and although ive got my school friends around, times move on and it’s great to meet new friends you have things in common with now, not just because you went to school or uni together. Even those who appear to have their cliques formed who they’ve known for ages… they’d probably love a new friend like you! I love your Instagram 😊xx

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:38 pm

      Wow, it’s strange to hear that this is common to people in other situations too! I feel like maybe it’s just part of getting older but it can really be hard to accept. Thanks so much for your kind words, and hit me up if you ever fancy a coffee! xx

  5. December 22, 2017 / 10:08 am

    Love love love this post and I’m so happy the photos turned out well! I can’t wait to take many more of you, you’re a dream to photograph! Thank you for the kind words! Cocktails soon, yeah? 😊❤️

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:35 pm

      Definitely! Thank you so much again, you’re a fab photographer and these are some of my faves of myself! x

  6. December 22, 2017 / 10:40 am

    If you ever want a mad foreign girl to keep you company – I’m here! All my life I’ve been here & there so I’m kinda used to not having many friends or having those super close friends who turned into names & faces because you moved away and they know you will not come back so they invest in new relationships instead. 🙂 I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m that overly friendly girl on Instagram who would compliment someone on their profile via DM, have a lot of conversations with people’s Insta stories & just count my friends people I met on Instagram. At least they understand why I’m that mad! 🙂

    So best of luck getting out of your comfort zone. I always say, the worst that can happen is someone will say they don’t want to talk to you but at least you try & most likely they will be wanting to have conversations.

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:35 pm

      Aw thank you for this lovely, we should definitely meet this year because it seems we have so much in common! I love all your comments and messages, it definitely inspires me to make more of an effort myself. Nothing wrong with being overly friendly 🙂

  7. December 29, 2017 / 10:45 am

    I can definitely relate to this! I have moved to Blackpool so yeah, I feel the same. I’m from Manchester and I go home on the regular, but most of my friends there have hectic lives or have moved away themselves so I do tend to feel a bit lost. I don’t really have many internet friends either, maybe I should make that my goal though in 2018!
    Love the outfit btw – especially that Miss Pap Parka! x

    Yasmin x

    @sweetsevenfive

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      I LOVE Manchester, I wish I had moved there sometimes because it seems like such a fun, creative city! I haven’t been to Blackpool yet but imagine it’s a little less so? It’s definitely a hard thing to make a move like we have, but hopefully all worth it! Good luck, keep your chin up! x

  8. January 4, 2018 / 6:34 pm

    Yeah totally girl, your posts rock. Really jealous of your bloomin Jamaica pics at the mo. I regularly go back to the North East to see a lot of my family. I love the North Eastern coast. Don’t be a stranger. I’ve always thought god this girl has the best job in the world and I’m just starting out my travel blogging adventure but never did it occur to me the reality of the loneliness this line of work can create. But remember you are never alone!

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:29 pm

      Oh definitely get in touch if you find yourself with some free time next time you’re back! Where are your family based? Yeah, I think social media can present a very limited view of what a person’s life is really like and the whole blogging thing has made this lifestyle that actually takes a lot of sacrifice, slog and loneliness seem hugely attractive and easy! It’s so much fun and so worth it but definitely has its downsides. Thanks so much for your lovely comment 🙂

  9. January 5, 2018 / 9:18 pm

    You are too cute in this parka!

    Thanks for the mention though, be so lovely to catch up with you when you’re back from your sunshine in Jamaica! Hope you’re having the best time!

    • Dannielle | While I'm Young
      January 14, 2018 / 8:27 pm

      Haha thank you Tasha! Will message you to sort out our next lil coffee date xx