Looking back, making friends when you were in school was a cakewalk. In kindergarten, you'd become instant best friends with the person who sat next to you during story time. In college, you most likely bonded with your roommate over pizza at 3 a.m., and always managed to meet tons of cool people just by playing Frisbee outside.

Unfortunately, making friends as an adult isn't always so easy. Without school and extracurriculars, there aren't as many opportunities to meet new people. And even when you do find someone you want to get to know better, it can be tough to find time in your schedule to cultivate a relationship. Still, it can be worth making the effort to expand your social circle, and making friends as an adult doesn't have to be as overwhelming as you might think. The key is putting yourself out there — and being open to whatever interesting connections might come your way. Here are a few simple ways to get started:

  1. Join a Team or Group

    It's easy to bond with a teammate over things that happen on the field, so why not join an intramural soccer team? And if sports aren't your thing, try to find a local book group to be a part of. Discussing characters or story plots is an easy, no-pressure way to connect with someone you don't know. Plus, when everyone is counting on you to show up, it will be hard to bail because you'd rather stay home and catch up on your favorite TV shows.

  2. Lend a Hand

    If you're an animal lover, make some time on the weekends to walk dogs at your local shelter. And if you're interested in the environment, volunteer to help clean up a local park. Regardless of how you choose to give back, you'll get the opportunity to meet and connect with others who share similar values—and to do something good at the same time.

  3. Take a Class

    Take drawing or painting lessons, join a yoga or dance studio, or even sign up for a class at your local community college. You'll get the chance to meet like-minded people who share a common interest, so you'll have plenty to talk about. And aside from meeting new friends, you'll also learn a cool new skill.

  4. Have a Friend Potluck

    At a regular potluck, everyone brings a dish to share with the group, and at a friend potluck, everyone brings a friend to introduce to the rest of the group. It ends up being like a party, but everyone is there to talk to new people instead of making a beeline for the ones they already know.

  5. Go Somewhere Alone

    Sure, it might feel a little intimidating to head to a bar, restaurant, or museum by yourself. However, when you're flying solo (instead of being engrossed in conversation with your friend or partner), you're more likely to start chatting with a stranger—or have someone start a conversation with you. Give it a try and see how you like it. Who knows what kind of interesting people you might meet?

Sure, making friends as an adult isn't always as straightforward as it was when you were a kid. However, you should still put yourself out there and give it a shot. Regardless of what happens, you won't regret trying.