Bumble BFF allows you to meet new friends by just the touch of a button

I used an app to make friends – here’s how it went:

There are certain things in life you only seem to appreciate once you don’t have them anymore. Like being able to breathe normally when you’re coming down with a cold. Or first moving out of your parents’ home, only to find out the fridge doesn’t magically restock itself. I had a similar realisation when I moved into my flat in Brixton – how amazing is it to just have friends?

Let me clarify: most of your friendships are organic right? They just came into your life at the right time. You never actually sat down and asked them “so, what are we?” It just happened. It’s only after moving to a different country that I realised I needed to do this thing all over again. But how?

So, somewhat reluctantly, I typed ‘how to make friends in London’ into Google, hit enter, and stumbled upon Bumble BFF.

Having done research on online dating in Morocco, I know a fair bit about all the platforms out there. And to be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about getting back on them. However, since Google autofilled my ‘how to make friends in London’ search query, I figured there must be tons of people just as clueless as me. So, I downloaded the app, set up my profile, and got swiping. Here’s how it went:

Setting up a profile feels weird

That’s when I first hit a wall. On a regular dating profile, people often want to come across as desirable and interesting as possible (not judging, we’re all guilty of doing this). I, however, wasn’t trying to lure someone into my bed – I came here to find a partner in crime. But what kind of profile would make someone say “wow I totally want to be friends with her”? This is what I settled on:

My own Bumble BFF profile

…but not as weird as swiping left (or right)

Looking for a friend to work out / drink prosecco / have brunch / watch Netflix / go dog-spotting with? You’ll find your match in no time. Even if you’re more into niche activities, from smashing the patriarchy to cross-stitching, your new BFF is out there!

If you feel like this Bumble BFF is full of weird people that are not able to make friends – think again. On the app I came across a lot of ladies who were new to London and therefore looking to meet some new people, but everyone had their own story and reason to use Bumble BFF. People drift apart, fall out, or might just be in different life phases.

I’ve always felt that with online dating you’re not really swiping left or right on them as a person, but the image they have created of themselves. So, no hard feelings if it isn’t a match! Looks obviously don’t matter if we’re talking friendship, and it just felt a little judgemental swiping left based on a couple of lines.

So my activity looked a little like this:

via GIPHY

CHATTING UP A FRIEND IS HARDER THAN IT SEEMS

“YOU HAVE A MATCH”. First, there was excitement, then there was terror. The good news is that on this platform, you won’t be sent any creepy pick-up lines. Instead, you’ll usually be met with complete silence. Which I get, because starting a conversation is tricky when there aren’t any rules to this game. There are so many ways to go about this, from completely oversharing to “so… have you seen Birdbox?” Luckily, I wasn’t alone on this one, and once the ice was broken, I got some pretty good conversations out of it.

There’s this thing called a Mate Date: and I went on one.

But where to go from here? A couple of days into my Bumble ad-friend-ture I started to wonder what would be right time to ask my Bumble BFF if she wanted to hang out. I was ready to make a bold move, but she actually got ahead of me. Before I was able to overthink this, we made plans to meet at a cocktail bar in the South of London.

Was I nervous? A little bit. Did I need to be? Absolutely not. At the beginning it did feel a little bit date-y. And you can’t distract the other person from your shit personality by seductively sipping your drink – it really is all about that connection and friendship potential! Luckily, we hit it off from the beginning, and had a fabulous time getting to know each other. Fast forward two hours, I was eating a chippy in her kitchen and happily chatting away with her flatmates before all heading to a house party. “Is she a serial dater?” I asked one of them. “No, you’re actually the first she brought home!” he replied.

Bumble BFF is here to stay

With our second mate date planned for next week, I can honestly say that I’m super happy that I tried out this tech-y new way of making new friends. If there’s anything I learned from this experience, it’s that there will always be people open to new friendships, and you’re not weird for actively looking for one. Whatever your thoughts on online dating are, we can’t deny that technology has facilitated some amazing new ways to meet like-minded people with the touch of a button. Would you give it a go?

Things that happen at every house party

These are the things you’ll see at every house party:

F

8.50 PM: Your party starts at 9, which means your party really starts at least an hour later. There’s always that one kid who shows up at your door wayyyy too early. Chances are that they’ll be hovering around you nervously as you’re still getting ready.

10.00 PM: Your living room is filling up nicely, but you notice that not everyone got the BYOB-memo. Oh, well, you already knew you had snakes for friends, right?

11PM: Someone gets completely wrecked by beer pong and is hugging the toilet for the rest of the night.

house party at the student hotel rotterdam

11.30PM: One person decides to be the life of the party and genuinely believes it’s the right time for “TEQUILAAAA”. Although no one is actually buzzing to be doing double shots, they still manage to convince the entire room to drink along.

11:37PM: The tequila is kicking in nicely and new friendships and romances are established out of thin air. “SUPRISED PIKACHU IS MY FAVOURITE MEME TOO”

12 AM: Apparently word of your epic house party is spreading like wildfire because you’re pretty sure you didn’t invite that random group standing in the kitchen. By this time however, everyone is your best friend, so you couldn’t care less.

house party at the student hotel rotterdam

12.30AM: Someone tries to rally the squad to leave the house party for some mediocre bar in the city, but obviously fails because this is where all the alcohol is.

1.30 AM: A handful of latecomers show up at your doorstep more four hours after the party was supposed to start. You wonder what they have been up to, but forget about asking as soon as you rush back to the kitchen to shove some beers in their hands.

2AM: Ah, the long-awaited moment has come: your neighbours have had enough and start complaining. You wonder “What would the Great Gatsby do?” and decide the show must go on. 

3AM: The house party has definitely already peaked, but no one is ready to admit it. Half of the crowd is mellowing out on the couch, and the other half is dancing their asses off to Nickelback. What a time to be alive.

THE MORNING AFTER: As you gather the courage to roll out of bed with your head spinning, you assess the damage of last night. Your feet are plastered to the beer-soaked floor and you notice that your [insert any random household item] is missing. You go through your photos and messages and stumble on some questionable if not incriminating content and decide to go back to sleep.

The Dutch aren't stingy, but zero waste

A Note About Dutch Stereotypes and the Zero Waste Movement

The Dutch are known for being frugal. It used to be an aspect of my culture I’d feel ashamed of. I so vividly remember how my ex shunned me for sharing one tea bag between two cups of tea. “You are so Dutch! That’s such a cheap thing to do!”. I actually stopped doing it for a long time. It’s funny how things turn around, however. Call us cheap, frugal, or stingy, I call us resourceful. On kliekjesdag, usually the end of the week where you would just chuck all leftovers together in a frying pan and create something from nothing. We were combating food waste before it was cool.

 

To be completely honest with you, the stereotype of people from the Netherlands being frugal is driven more by the fact that we like to save some dough than save the earth. Still, considering that we are inherently (cue nature/nurture discussion) low waste consumers makes it a lot easier to jump and stay on the zero waste-bandwagon.

 

Shoutout to my mum for using those toothbrush clamps, double-dipping tea bags and making french toast out of stale bread.

How Social Media Envy Affects Us All

Quiz time! For what reason are you active on social media?

  1. To connect and keep in touch with people

  2. To be in the loop and inform myself

  3. To look at pug videos all day

  4. To manage and control the impression I make on others

You probably never even considered answer D to be the reason why you just love broadcasting live updates of your Sunday brunch on Instagram, right? Even if you hardly post on social media, you’ll be likely to treat your followers to a picture-perfect version of whatever it is you share.

Social media envy from Instagram
My personal feed. Cue party pics, milestones, showing off my friends, #instatravel…

Getting lost in this constant influx of images and content is way more than our brillant bean can take. Especially when we get bombarded with the creme de la creme of content. It makes us feel like we should be (or have been) there. That we need that product to look stylish, or fit in. It makes us wish that we could have the same body, boyfriend, or bank account.

social media Jealousy vs. social media Envy

Although envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, there is a subtle yet important difference between the two. Does the idea of other people sliding into your lover’s DMs make you feel like you should punch a wall? You’re jealous. Envy is scrolling through Instagram, seeing things you want and feeling bad about not being able to have it. In a way, FOMO (fear of missing out) is also a form of envy.

So, jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have, while envy is wanting what someone else has. Although social media jealousy definitely a problem that should be explored further, I’ll be focussing on social media envy, and the eternal struggle for the pursuit of happiness.

Keeping up with the Kardashians

Feeling envious, or comparing yourself to others is a very real thing, and you don’t have to be ashamed for it. In fact, we all experience it. Plus, it’s been around forever! The only difference is that it didn’t happen on a tiny screen. Today it’s all about the Kardashians, but a decade or two ago we were all keeping up with the Jones’es.

We wouldn’t feel like we were missing out on life just because some blond babe across the globe livestreamed herself swimming with sharks: we simply didn’t have access to her life. Instead, you would throw a tantrum because your frenemy from third grade got this awesome Tamagotchi, and you also wanted one. Similarly, your parents would be making snarky comments about Mr. Jones’es new shiny Ferrari parked on the driveway, right next to their Ford.

Being envious of one person in your direct circle is already harmful enough. Imagine seeing hundreds of those envy-evoking images on your Instagram feed. Every. Day. Sometimes it can feel like someone else is living your dream life. You’d almost think your own life isn’t fulfilling enough.

Social media envy makes us feel like we're not living our best lives
Social media envy makes us feel like we’re not living our best lives

In the latest podcast of The Minimalists, author Rachel Cruze explains how social media platforms have completely transformed our sense of relativity. “We now carry around something in our back pockets that offers us a window into everyone’s life”. But this life of theirs isn’t real. Like we can inject our lips with botox or get butt implants, we can ‘cosmetically’ – or rather, technically – alter, distort, and filter our life online. As a result, we’re all set up with a bunch of unrealistic expectations that we consider to be the new normal.

It’s time to come to the realisation that offline, even Alexis Ren looks like she got hit by a car sometimes.

group of people meeting

Why we should stop asking people what they do

In less than three months I’ll be swapping in my home country for another. It’s an exciting next step that I feel comes at exactly the right time: I’ve graduated, am not completely anchored to a job and most of all, ready for a change  after living in the Netherlands for 22 years.

“Yay, London, that’s great! Already know whereabouts?”

“Nah, I’ll see”, I shrug, completely unfazed.

“Have you found a job yet?

“No I haven’t”

“Oh, but you must have something in mind that you want to be doing there, right?”

I answer with another negative, now feeling slightly self-conscious.

Having had the same talk with friends, colleagues and family over the past months, I’ve noticed this pattern occurring dozens of times. And it makes sense, because I’m obviously not going to be sitting on a bench staring at the Big Ben for the rest of my life. They want to know what I’ll be spending my time on.

Here’s what we seem to be forgetting:

A week, last time I checked, consisted of 168 hours.

A work-week, averages 36-40 hours.

“What do you do?” is probably the most frequently  asked question (excluding all weird Google searches) out there. For a question that ambiguous, we probably all have a carefully prepared answer that we are able to recite as effortlessly as the Pokemon theme song.

“I’m a manager at a local electronics store”

“I’m a student at X University, studying North-American History”

“I’m currently unemployed”

Congratulations, you have just learned how random person at houseparty A,B, and C, spend 23.8% of their time! Maybe you now have an indication of their monthly paycheck, if that matters to you.

via GIPHY

Do I sound a little salty? Maybe, but what I’m trying to point out is that you’ll discover surprisingly little about that person, while at the same time pigeonholing them into a degree, or job title. I’m a social media marketeer 23.8% of the time, but in my spare time, I stay to stay away from Facebook and Instagram as much as possible. I don’t like talking about algorithms, influencers and Mark Zuckerberg in my free time.

Mini challenge: Next time you’re at a party and meet something new, and they ask you what you do, try and give them a honest answer (of course, only share what you want to share).

I’ll go first: I work as a (see how I didn’t say I am?) social media marketer for a small tech startup, I run and do yoga a couple times a week, and I love putting words down on paper in any way, shape, or form.

Some would be delighted to answer that question for you, however, raving on about their job, their challenges and projects. These people are either truly passionate about what they do (in their 23.8% space) or also associate their job with whatever they do in their free time. If you consider yourself part of this group, you’re lucky, because not everyone feels this way.  There definitely is a certain privilege in doing what you love

Regardless, isn’t it way more fun to talk about what you do and who you are in your free time? The time we all seem to enjoy most out of the week? Of course, talking about your job is not a taboo, a detail in our life that we must try and bury! Just know that you are so much more than that, and so are others.

Doing what you love goes beyond our 40-hour work week, so let’s focus on that.

Mini-challenge: At that same party, try to find the one thing that make their eyes sparkle with joy and excitement. Is it a book they recently read? Their pet guinea pig? Crossfit? Collecting stamps? Salt & Vinegar crisps?

By (literally) changing the conversation, we get rid of the idea that our job is the singular most important in our daily lives, and we focus on the things that give us pleasure, rather than what gives us stress.

 

So, what do you do?

Graduates of 2018

Last Friday, I had the honour of graduating from Leiden University after four challenging, but incredibly rewarding years of studying International Studies. The ceremony took place in the Pieterskerk, a stunning church that had been built in the 17th century. The whole experience of us students walking in procession as the orchestra music bounced off the ancient walls, while family and professors watched us come in, beaming with pride, was nothing short of overwhelming.

unattainable life advice

Several members of the faculty were giving speeches that had dissapointingly little elements of surprise: Go follow your passion! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Make the best of any given situation! Meanwhile I wondered whether the advice they were giving actually got them to where they were today.

The most powerful speech I heard that day was actually not given by a professor, with years of knowledge and experience, but by a twentysomething graduate whom I shared a couple of classes with in my first year. Everyone knew her as an exceptional student, someone who was going to make it in their career and life generally.

Then she started talking about the challenges, self-doubt and confusion she faced while trying to find the career path that would make her happy. She was jumping from one incredible opportunity to the next, until she wasn’t sure that this was what she was ‘supposed to do’. She moved back in with her parents and spent some time trying to figure out her next steps as she worked a part-time job. Fast forward one year, she has made the decision to do another masters, to specialize into the one thing she is truly passionate about.

university student graduation dipoloma

Millennial eyes

Why did this resonate with me so much?

Upon graduation,  you suddenly get confronted with a whole new series of challenges. What are you going to be doing now? Surely you’ll do another Master’s program, right? What, you don’t want to pursue a career that aligns with your degree? What a waste! You’ll get these sorts of questions on a daily basis, and everyone expects you to have an answer ready. Cause you must have some sort of plan, right? This millennial life ain’t easy.

This brings me to why I’ve started this blog:

I’ve noticed that a lot of my fellow millennials (my friends, coworkers, and peers included) are faced by choice paralysis, job dissatisfaction, mental issues, a general lack of focus and so on. According to various media outlets, millennials are the most stressed-out generation to date. Recent Dutch research has found that 75% of all surveyed respondents (between the age of 18 and 34) has considered going to a psychologist. Burn-outs and depressions seem to become more and more common. What’s going on here?

We’ve grown up and have been shaped by a tumultuous history, characterised by rapid social and technological change. We are the first digital generation. We are social media addicts. We are snowflakes. We are creators of entirely new markets. For the first time in a long time we’ll have a lower salary than our parents. We saw 9/11 on television before we were old enough to make sense of it.

Is this what defines us?

Millennial Eyes aims to help millennials make sense of their lives, and how they’re living it. By creating a platform where we – the largest and most diverse generation in history – can share experiences and discuss everyday issues without judgement, we can start becoming more mindful of the context in which we’re continuing to grow (up). Whether you’re an ‘old millennial’ or a ’90’s kid’, we can all learn something from each other.

Join me in exploring what shapes the lives of Generation Y!

– Isla