My friend has a daughter in high school who will move with them, but also two kids in college who will stay put out west. And because she's been settled in one spot for so long, she wondered if I had any tips on moving in this season of life.
That would be the season where your small children no longer have play dates with other small children whose mothers can then become your ready made friends.
N is for The New Girl
I got to thinking about what it's like to be the new girl in the middle of your life. How do you settle in, find your niche and your comfort zone and one real friend, because no matter where we roam, I think we all need one true friend in the place we call home.
I'm going to start by saying it's hard to be the new girl once you hit a certain age. I've been the new girl lots of times in my life, but moving in my late 40's was by far the most challenging. Granted we'd also been living out of the country for a number of years, so there was more going on than 'just a move', but still it was hard.
Women my age who've lived in a place for a while tend to have their friends and their routines and their tightly knit circles, and they don't necessarily feel the need to make room for one more. That's not a slam, it's just truth. I don't think it occurs to them because they really don't need more friends.
So from the get go, I think it's important to have realistic expectations about life in a new place. Probably the first thing to acknowledge and make peace with is that it won't look exactly like life in the old place. Some bits will look so much better, but others will make you want to cry for all you've left behind.
It's okay to cry. A little. But don't wallow. Pick yourself up and get out of the house, maybe even every day. That's a biggie. Head to where the people are....Target, the library, the supermarket. Being around people, even people you don't know, helps you remember there is a life to be made in this new place eventually.
Join something. A lot of women say they aren't joiners, but when you move in mid-life you're going to want to connect somewhere, and it's likely not going to be the bus stop or the Saturday morning soccer field unless you've got young children. For me personally, church is an excellent place to begin. I enjoy being part of a women's Bible Study, so I seek that out as soon as I land somewhere new.
As soon as you land. That's important. Don't wait...don't say I'll do it tomorrow, or next week, or as soon as the house is all put together. Don't use the house as an excuse to hibernate. If a neighbor invites you for coffee (God bless that neighbor!) then go. If you haven't met your neighbors take a walk around the block and see what you can see.
If your local library is starting a book club and that's your thing, sign up. Find a yoga class or a knitting group or a food pantry looking for volunteers. It's easy to stay tucked away feeling a little bit sorry for yourself, but the world may not come to you. You might have to go to it.
Many towns have newcomers clubs of one sort or another, and they're often a place to find out about fun things happening in your area, and to hopefully meet someone like yourself. A newbie looking for a friend. Even if this is something you've never done before, give it a try. Go in not thinking you'll hate it, but rather with an open mind. Remember you're not signing up or joining something for life. If you discover it's not for you, nobody's going to judge you harshly.
In the modern world moving many states or countries away no longer means cutting ourselves off completely from the friends we've left behind. Part blessing, part curse. Thanks to Facebook, texting, iChat, Skype and all the rest it's awfully easy to spend the days still completely immersed in the goings on 'back home'.
Except that's not home anymore.
You live here now, and need to figure out how to make this this new thing great too.
Also, your old life wasn't all great. Ha!
Believe me, at first you'll likely remember it as rosy rose rose, but go ahead and admit to yourself that life wasn't perfect there either. Don't spend so much time online with your old friends and life that you miss out on what's right in front of you.
The attitude with which we enter a new opportunity so often determines how we adjust. Once the decision has been made to relocate put your head down and get on with it. Decide from Day 1 that you are going to like it.
And you probably will.
Maybe not all at once, but day by day this new place will grow on you until one day you wake up and realize you're home.
Lastly, a note to all you folks who have your roots dug down deep in a place you've lived forever. There are women like me everywhere I go. Women who've moved a lot who are trying to find a way to make this new place feel like home. Try to notice the new girl. Try to slide over a little and make room.
I am always looking for the new girl.
I feel her loneliness and her anxiety and her wobbly self-confidence.
I want to tell her she's brave and it will be okay.
Better than okay.