Two days ago, you read about how you can be a good neighbor to the new kid in town …but what about when you’re the new kid in town? What about when you’re the one who gets lost on a daily basis, who yearns to run into someone you know at the grocery store, who just wants to feel like you belong to a people and a place? What do you do then?
Well, I’ve got some ideas, of course.
I’ve been the new kid, a lot. There have been places I’ve moved to in which community is a given, a built-in extension of already established relationships. There have been other cities that seemed to speak my language, where I didn’t have to get to know how and why people operate the way they do, because it just made sense to me.
But that hasn’t always been the case.
Eleven years ago when I moved to the Pacific Northwest for a job in ministry, I expected it to be an easy transition. I was moving there because God told me to, after all. I was moving there because this was what I was supposed to do. And since I was the new kid in town, I reasoned, people would want to hang out with me. They would want to get to know the Cool New California Girl.
Almost a year and a half into the gig, when that hadn’t happened and when I was terribly lonely to boot, I broke down. I cried all the tears and I felt all the feels and soon there after, I left.
Sometimes I wish I could do it all over again …and now, two weeks into Seattle, I can. And, my friend, so can you.
Here’s a list of 50 ways you can dominate as the new kid in town, including some repeats from Wednesday’s list:
- Say hello to one new person every day.
- Don’t expect others to say hi to you first.
- Don’t be offended when the already-established person doesn’t say hi to you.
- Introduce yourself.
- Have a friend already? Ask them to introduce you to other people. Ask them to call others by name so you can get names ingrained in your mind.
- Smile. Make eye contact. Be the human you already are.
- Remember (and call) this new friend by name.
- Choose to laugh when they don’t remember your name.
- Pat yourself on the back for your amazing name-remembering skills.
- Do it again the next day.
- Ask them about their neighborhood: the gym, the parks, the best local coffee shop. Get them talking about their world.
- Ask for their digits.
- Don’t be offended when they don’t ask for your digits first – they may not know what it’s like to be new.
- Invite them over to your new place.
- Invite them to the park near your house.
- Slyly invite yourself over to their house.
- Give yourself a couple of opportunities to be the one reaching out – and after that, it’s their turn.
- Adopt a new kid mantra: Try, try again. No harm, no fowl. You got this!
- If you have school-aged children, initiate a new kid hang out time: “Hey! We’re new in town and we’d love to get to know you. Meet us at the local park this Saturday from 2-4.”
- Invite other families (or the one family you know) over for a holiday cookie making party.
- Let yourself feel out of sorts.
- Remind yourself that moving takes time – one year, two years, three years is a normal amount of time to reestablish yourself.
- Be patient.
- Find a church (or local religious community) with opportunities for smaller, intentional engagement: small groups, bible studies, MOPS, mom’s groups, etc.
- Keep showing up, even if you feel like you don’t fit in.
- Keep showing up, even if you wonder if they’ll be your people.
- Keep showing up, because sometimes you just need to see familiar faces.
- Find your nearest library.
- Make it your first appointment to keep, week after week.
- If you have kids, go to the weekly story time every single week.
- Smile. Say hello. Repeat steps 1-4, again and again and again.
- Find a local park.
- Find a good walking or running route.
- Do the same route, everyday.
- Try new routes, everyday.
- Find a local coffee shop.
- Treat yourself to a cup o’ jo everyday for a week.
- Learn the baristas names.
- Make yourself a regular.
- Jump for joy when someone asks you your name first. Victory!
- Jump for joy when someone asks you to hang out first. Victory!
- Jump for joy when you feel like you’ve found your first friend. Victory!
- Make a random side comment to a stranger.
- Smile when they respond.
- Laugh when they don’t. Let it rolllllllll off your back. Ain’t no thang! They don’t know how funny you are! Their loss!
- Say YES.
- Yes, I’ll go out to lunch with you even though you seem weird.
- Yes, I’ll meet you for coffee, even though I don’t know if we’ll ever hang out again.
- Yes, I’ll have a playdate with you even though you helicopter like nobody’s business.
- Create a routine of places you visit, especially if you have kids.
- Find a local bookstore that can act as a home base.
- Remind yourself that moving is hard.
- Give yourself grace that transitions take time.
- Get to know your solo self, all over again.
- Relish in this time of quiet, when there’s not much on your schedule.
- Treat yourself to a stack of books.
- Relish in reading those books because time is on your side right now!
- Give yourself three minutes to feel sorry for yourself, then choose an attitude of resilience.
- Find a local writing group.
- Ask your social media community to connect you with people they already know in your new town.
- Play tourist!
- Make it a point of getting out and seeing one new thing every single weekend.
- Approach it as a new adventure: what does this place have for me? What will I discover about myself in this new town?
- Join a gym.
- Go to classes, which tend to be more sociable than a solo ride on the Elliptical machine.
- Notice who keeps showing up to the classes you attend.
- Put on your Big Girl Panties and say hello to one new gym rat a day.
- Repeat steps 1-4, again and again and again.
- Offer a compliment: I love your spirit! Your smile is infectious. Are you a professional dancer on the side, because you just nailed that Zumba sequence.
- Volunteer at a local non-profit organization.
- Make a list of all the restaurants people tell you to visit.
- Visit all of those restaurants people tell you to visit.
- Be honest.
- Be yourself.
- Relish in this gift of entering into a new place, a new people, a new you.
- Hold close the ones you love.
- Notice the little things.
- Find one thing that brings you joy every single day.
- Write down this one joy-filled thing, everyday.
- Let go of expectations.
- Be surprised by what does happen instead of by what doesn’t happen.
I get it. Moving is hard. Transitions are hard. Starting over is hard.
But we can do hard things. We can put ourselves out there. We can take on the challenge of finding where and how we fit in to the place that doesn’t always feel quite like us yet. We can give others grace and show them out to welcome the outsider, and we can let go of expectations that welcoming the newcomer is on them (even if it should be that way).
In this with you,
So, let’s start with #84. What would you add to the list? How have you established yourself in a new place when you were the new kid?