Every 3 years it's the same old song and dance. We pack up everything we own and move to a new city and a new Air Force base. The typical things happen...D starts a new job, we find a new place to live, we learn new neighborhoods, shop at new stores, and find new doctors, dentists, and hair stylists. But the one part of the moving process that never ever gets easier (and people tend to forget about)? Making new friends. It's my least favorite thing in the world to do. I know that's probably a loaded statement, but finding myself as a complete stranger (knowing absolutely no one) in a new place makes me feel 30 different kinds of weird and vulnerable. Starting from "friendship scratch" will forever be a daunting endeavor.
D and I have never really had problems making friends. In fact, I think we're quite good at it. I've got the gift of gab and D is cool as a cucumber in almost every social situation. A dynamic duo, if you will. But even with glowing social skills and lots to talk about, we still find the tasks of finding friends, all the way to building friendships, something of a beast to tackle (at least in its beginning stages). Some may think it to be "old hat" to have to start over making new friends every few years, but we still get nervous, we still feel awkward, and we still hate breaking the ice (and not every friend we meet is a friend we necessarily want to keep...but that's another post for another day!). I think it's human nature to want to retreat into a hole whenever the thought of having to put yourself out there becomes something of necessity more than it is a luxury. Having friends and acquaintances outside of just your significant other, old friends, and family members is an integral part of adapting to a new place, in my opinion at least. I know for D and myself, it's one of the first things we try to do when moving to a new city or state...or foreign country, for that matter. Even though we know we have to do it, friend making can take a toll on me emotionally, sending my nerves into overdrive until that first friend meet-up is over and done with. After the first initial social ice-breaker, we build confidence and momentum in the whole process. The nerves dissipate a bit and we remember that building new relationships is also fun and exciting! It may take time, but we know it's worth it. Friendships are good for our minds, but essential for our hearts.
That's where we find ourselves just 3 weeks into our Florida relocation. Now that we've secured the house, the jobs (for D, at least), the familiarizing ourselves with our new surroundings...it's time to venture out and make ourselves some friends! Thankfully, D's new squadron is chock-full of new faces to meet. In fact, we've already broken the ice and had our first two social experiences here in the Sunshine State! Praise the Lord! We spent Saturday night mingling with 5 super sweet couples at a backyard BBQ and then had dinner last night with D's squadron sponsor and his lovely wife. It's interesting how both D and I can be so out of our minds with nervousness before these meet-ups, but after, so pumped and hopeful as we download our experiences at home with each other that night. So far, our friend-making attempts have been positive and far from scary. Granted, as the years pass by, we find ourselves more selective with who we build friendships with (you live and you learn, am I right?), but one thing remains the same...the need to find friends who build you up, are supportive through the tough times, and who are just plain 'ol fun to be around. I've got to say, it's so nice being back in the South! Southern sweetness abounds in this city! While the art of making friends is something I might never find easy, it's definitely an exciting and rewarding part of life. As the saying goes...
"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold!"
Is friend-making something that makes you nervous, too?
How do you cope with being a stranger in a new city?
Any tips or words of the wise for those of us navigating making new friendships?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!