In the last decade since graduating from undergrad I have moved to five states and even more cities mainly for job opportunities. Moving to a new city while exciting always brings about a sense of trepidation from all the unknown factors. It also brings about feelings of loneliness and isolation that spring upon us. I certainly experienced all these feelings.
In my first few moves I let anxiety, fear, and loneliness overwhelm me to the point that I sabotaged my summer internship performance, but as I spent more time in a new city, I realized that I would have to forge a new path. I would have to take hold of these feelings and turn them into a positive force to avoid being miserable. We get one chance at a happy life. Why waste it holed up in your apartment binge watching TV shows or cleaning an already clean apartment? I realized after getting some help and advice from a professional source that to grow I would have to push myself outside my comfort zone. To ward off the feelings of loneliness I would have to start connecting to people around me and engage in activities that make me happy.
Here’s what I discovered on connecting with the world around me and on creating a sense of belonging.
- Participate in an activity you enjoyed in the past. I played some Tennis growing up so I joined a Tennis league. This enabled me to meet new people with similar interests and have fun while getting a good workout. Playing matches and going to weekday practices were a better use of my time than cleaning. If you love running, you can join a running club or a local softball league. If sports is not your thing, that’s okay. Join a dance class or if you love reading join a local book club.
- Make new friends. I struggled with this in the beginning because all my previous friendships stemmed from meeting friends at school. So how do you make friends outside of school? A great site is Meetups.com. I found a meetup for professional working women in the area I lived. It took me a few months from the time of signing up to have the courage to go to a meet up, but eventually I did. While it was scary to meet strangers, the girls I met at brunch were looking for the same things that I was — to make friends and find people to spend time doing fun activities with. I went to a few more organized events where the women I became friends with connected me to their other friends. Before I knew it, I had a little crew assembled who I could watch the Superbowl with, go to brunch with or do a girls night out with. Most of us sit back and wait for the world to drop friends into our lives and while this might be the case in school, in the real world you have to take the initiative. I had to initiate texts and host parties to build new relationships. Making new friends takes effort but better to spend a Friday night drinking wine with your girlfriends than cleaning your already clean kitchen!
- Continue your learning journey. Just because you’re out of school doesn’t mean you cannot continue building up your skills. I wanted to learn more about digital marketing and website design as I embarked on my blogger journey so I found a weekend digital marketing workshop through General Assembly. I volunteered through work with an organization that helps nonprofits build websites. This allowed me to learn new skills that I could apply to my side hustle and grow as a person. Learning new skills doesn’t have to always translate to growing professional skills but can be to grow your side projects or just for fun.
Moving to a new city is an intimidating endeavor especially, if you don’t have an in-built network. Bonding with a community can occur through many different ways — common interests, shared experiences, working toward the same goals and so on. Most importantly, to build that sense of community you have to show up, get involved and take initiative.