Meeting people is easy – and hard
In the Danish city of Aarhus, the number of young people experiencing social exclusion is on the rise. To combat this, the project From Isolation to Inclusion (I2I) is working with the social platform Genlyd, which lets young adults find a network through common interests.
Laura (29) has lived in Aarhus for many years and had a large circle of friends in the city. But as they got older, her friends moved out of town. Suddenly, casual appointments had to be planned long into the future. Getting a cup of coffee with someone could be an all-day activity, travelling long distances.
For Laura, it was obvious that something had to change.
(Laura is not her real name, and the photo in this article is for illustration purposes only.)
“It was difficult to begin with. Where do you meet new people when you are not a student, and everything is closed due to the corona virus?” she asks.
Laura had noticed the DIY event on the social platform genlydaarhus.dk, and thought it sounded interesting. She had made up her mind to try it, but then the pandemic hit and the event, along with so many others, was cancelled. But Laura kept an eye on the site, and when the restrictions were lifted and a new DIY event was scheduled, she signed up.
“When society reopened this past summer, it was so frustrating taking the train just to meet someone. I needed to meet new people in Aarhus, and I needed to do something about it right now. And, I thought, what’s the worst thing that could happen”?
Courage pays off
The DIY club was Laura’s first time participating in an event through the Genlyd site. This event was also one of the initiatives of the I2I project.
“It was a good experience, and a nice way to be introduced to new people. It suited me that there were lots of other people participating, so I could sit back and listen a bit more, and then suddenly get a sense of someone and think I would like to talk more with you”, says Laura.
After the event, Laura has gotten a lot more aquaintances in the city. But it hasn’t been easy.
“It can be hard work to get involved, to get the activities into your calendar, to show up and be present, and to be interested in other people. But it has given me so much in return. Now I have several good aquaintances to join me for social activities”, she says.
One of the aquaintances is Christine. She and Laura met through a post at the Genlyd site.
“Christine also wanted to meet new people, and she made a post about board games. Five people showed up. We didn’t know each other at all, but we had a really good evening at the board game café. Christine wrote to me after, and we ended up doing more things together.”
All in the same boat
As Laura started attending more events through Genlyd, she met a lot of people who, like her, were young and wanted to get to know more people.
“I started thinking, OK, I’m not completely alone in here. There are many others looking for the same thing as me”, she says.
This also meant that it was easier to reach out to people after meeting at events, because everyone at Genlyd is interested in the same thing – meeting new people.
Laura feels that she is starting to create a lasting network in Aarhus.
“I think that me and Christine are building something good. Among other things, we have set up a board game group with others we have met through Genlyd”, she says.
Occasionally, the thought of “what if” hits Laura. What if she had never turned up at the DIY club that evening?
“I think of all the people would never have met. There are so many amazing people I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for Genlyd”, she says.
As she finishes her sentence, her phone plings with a message. She looks up with a smile.
“That’s exactly what I mean. Before I found a new network through Genlyd I might get messages a couple of times a week. Now there is someone who writes me every day”.