Seems to me, and I could be grossly misinterpreting my demographic, that a lot of people my age meet people in bars. Which is totally cool, I'm not judging you if you do or did. For me though, it's really uncomfortable. As I've mentioned, I'm not terribly articulate, especially when talking with guys I don't know. And in the rare event that one of them says something nice to me I pull one of these:
I feel like bars are for people who thrive on being in large crowds and like small talk. Again, cool if you do, more power to you. I also feel like especially people my age who are in bars are looking more for hook-ups and not really a relationship, which is totally not my scene. So when debating on how to go about broadening my social circle, I didn't even consider this an option.
What I did consider, were the cooking classes. At least that was part of my hope. And while I have yet to meet any nice, single men my age (with the exception of the really nice guy who taught us to make pizza...I should look into that) it's always a win because I wind up with a delicious meal and tons of recipes. I've been to three so far: pizza, curry, and pie. PIE. I had a whole dinner made up of different pies that night...I am not at all sad that it was full of middle-aged and up women. Plus the teacher was amazing and really helpful. But alas, no lasting friends or subsequent dates came from any of them.
What I did NOT consider (but maybe should have!) was just going places alone. People are more apt to talk to you if you are by yourself and not actively involved in conversation with someone you already know. I had this particular realization when I took myself to go see Man of Steel. Being the nerd that I am I had decided to go to a late show on opening day, and I also showed up an hour and a half early. Getting in line and having a good seat and all that. So I poked my head around the corner and saw a tiny group of people sitting on the floor waiting and I asked, "Is this the line for Man of Steel?" They all nodded reassuringly and I went and took a seat next to the guy who was at the end. He asked if I was a big Superman fan, and I looked a little sheepish and admitted that no, I wasn't really, but the movie trailer looked so good I thought I'd give it shot. He perked right up and said, "Really?! I'm the same way! Superman is usually totally overrated, but this one looked really good!" And so started our friendship. As it turned out, he was also there by himself, but some friends of his called and said they might come closer to the movie time (which they did, and they were all awesome). We talked about jobs and how we wound up there, what we actually went to school for, other places we'd lived and how we got there, and which super heroes we really did think were the best. It was a great time.
*Side note: This is one glowing example of why I love the geek community. I have yet to go somewhere where there is a large population of geeks and not feel welcome. Even when I go to the comic book store, I wind up having a brief conversation with some nice boy playing Warhammer in the back. It is a kind, welcoming culture, and one that I'm very happy to have embraced and that has embraced me.
Roughly an hour into our conversation, one of his other friends shows up. She joins us, he introduces me, and then we all just carry on like we've been BFFs forever. At one point I said, "I feel a little weird cause I literally just met you guys, but do you mind if I add you on Facebook?" They were both very emphatic and replied, "Of course! And it's not weird, this is how you meet people now. It's cool." Friends. I made friends! Right before they let us in to sit, his last friend showed up and it was the same round of introduction, same awesome good to have you, and we all went in and sat together for the show, and discussed it on the way out through the parking lot and just generally had a really good time.
I cannot tell you how happy I was going home that day. Not because I had actually met a single boy my age that was really nice and I could talk to (bonus!), but that I had actually made new friends. I honestly really like going to movies by myself, and do most of the time when I decide to go see a movie, but that's the first time since I graduated in 2008 that I've met people outside of a work setting totally on my own. It emboldened me a little, and I have to say, good things come to those that take adventures. Even if the adventures are small.