Bianca Knows Best ...

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Dear Bianca,

I moved to Memphis over a year ago, and I’ve yet to make any real lasting friendships. I moved here with my boyfriend, and he’s made a few friends through his job. But I don’t really have girlfriends of my own. I work from home, and that’s part of the problem. I’m sure I’d at least make some friendly associations with co-workers if I had them. In fact, I rarely leave the house except to run errands or get groceries.

My boyfriend works a night shift, so there’s rarely an opportunity for us to go out and meet people together. I certainly don’t want to go to social functions alone since, I’m a little shy. Any suggestions?

— The Loner

Dear Loner,

Making friends in a new city is tough, especially for shy folks. I was painfully shy as a kid, so I understand your plight. I overcame my shyness through theater and modeling school. But before you go auditioning for the next Theatre Memphis production, here are a few tips for making friends and overcoming shyness:

You need to find an excuse to get out of the house more often. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get out, meet new people, and help make someone else's day brighter. If you like animals, volunteer to walk dogs at the animal shelter or the Humane Society. Help feed the homeless with Food Not Bombs, or unleash your inner handy-woman with Habitat for Humanity.

Be sure to pick a volunteer group activity that genuinely interests you. That way, the people you meet will share common interests and goals. Volunteering can also help you overcome your shy tendencies, since you’ll be dealing with strangers. If interacting with the public makes you nervous, suck it up. Over time, you will shed the shyness, I promise. My friends today would have never guessed I was once a shy kid, since now I can’t keep my mouth shut.

You should also try seeking out workshops, classes, or social groups geared toward your interests. Knitting classes, gardening lessons, political clubs, leadership groups, you name it, they're out there. For example, I met many of my buds through my involvement in a local vegetarian society.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on your boyfriends’ co-workers to make up your base of friends. If you ever break up, he’ll get custody of those folks, and then you’ll be without a man or a friend.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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