Meet Katey Shehan. She calls herself “one of Charlotte’s biggest cheerleaders” and runs CLT Social Club, an Instagram account that coordinates group hangouts for people who live in Charlotte.
- She didn’t always love her city though.
“Even though I grew up here, I hated living here,” Shehan, a Ballantyne native, told me over coffee recently. “I thought the solution was to move to a different city,” she said.
Why it matters: The human need for companionship is primal. In some studies, like this one from neuroscientists at UCLA, researchers have found that human interaction is as vital as food and shelter for survival.
- Friendships can make or break your experience in any city. But, it can be hard to make genuine connections as an adult.
- Think about it: Before adulthood, your friendships were facilitated by surroundings – school, family, church, sports or other organizations. But without those avenues, it can be hard to introduce yourself to a stranger, no matter how extroverted you are.
When she came home, all of her friends had moved away. It wasn’t until her mom encouraged her to go to a young professional group, that she met someone who eventually became one of her best friends. That’s when she realized: “Charlotte is so much more mijn gay websites fun when you have people to experience it with.”
- In , Shehan posted a TikTok that featured videos of Charlotte and a robot voiceover that said “there is zero reason to live anywhere but Charlotte, North Carolina.” The video went viral and today has more than 35K likes, 3k shares, and 1k comments.
- “I started getting a bunch of comments, and DMS to my Instagram being like, oh my gosh, I’m moving to Charlotte, or I’m new to Charlotte, what are some places that you would recommend?”
At first, Shehan met up with everyone who reached out to her, but she quickly realized this wasn’t going to be sustainable. She was spending too much time and money essentially meeting up with strangers.
- So she started grouping them together and would meet up with five to ten people at a time. Eventually, she organized a hangout with nearly 100 people.
“I would for sure be down to do it again,” she said in a TikTok about the hangout. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
- “I woke up the next morning with like, 150 DMs to my personal Instagram from girls being like, ‘I saw your TikTok, I’d really love to be friends.’”
- It was the catalyst for CLT Social Club – a more organized version of Shehan’s impromptu blind-friend dates.
How it works: Shehan posts the dates, times and locations of upcoming hangouts on the CLT Social Club Instagram. If you’re nervous about going alone, she’ll pair you with a random group of people that you can meet up with ahead of the event and go together.
- The events range in size, with some being as intimate as a brunch setting, or as big as a meetup at Suffolk Punch.
The big picture: Roughly 120 people move to Charlotte every day. Some come with ties to the cities, others don’t know a single soul.
Separately: Charlotte Ladies Brunch is a Facebook group with more than 3,000 members, catering to women ages 21-35 who love to brunch and want to make connections.
“I hated living here”: A Charlotte native learns to love her city by helping others find friends
What’s next: Charlotte Ladies Brunch meets up about once a month, the next meetup is at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery on June 12.
The bottom line: Whether you’re a life-long Charlottean or a recent transplant, an introvert or extrovert, there is a likely a group of people out there for you, you just have to find them. Some other groups I found while writing include: