April 27, 2017

“Let’s Get Real” Edition: Navigating Friendships After Moving

It’s another getting real post here, where I share an aspect of wellness with a personal slant. This time, it’s emotional wellness and how I have navigated friendships after a big move, almost 1,000 miles away- by still staying connected to my friends (and missing them) while also making new friends. Frankly, I will always miss my (now) far-away friends wherever I live. I think about them all the time. You may be able to relate in a similar capacity or just relate to the feelings of missing someone. Nonetheless, you know- it’s that achy feeling that you just want to hug them and laugh with them until your belly hurts with crying tears running down your face.

Isn’t that the best? I love a good belly laugh. Or really, just sit and be with them. I don’t really care.

First let me give you a brief backstory. I’ve lived in 3 states:

  • NY (in various places as a young child)- 18 years
  • OH (in a lot of places)- 13 years
  • SD (already a couple places within our community)- 1.5 years

Yes, do the math. I’m in my mid thirties, and my birthday is coming up. #sendtheparade

Also you’ll notice I continued to move west in my living places. What’s up with that? I would’ve been shocked if you would have told me in high school that I would be living in these states, in this order. God sometimes has a funny sense of humor. 

ANYWAYS…

The backstory

When I moved from NY to OH after high school to attend college, I was pumped. Already a huge social butterfly, I was ready to make new friends quicker than anyone. It was shortly after my parents divorced and I was itching for a fresh start. I moved onto campus and hit the ground running with making friends and making this fresh start for myself, and I loved every minute of it. I made friends here that are current lifelong friends.

After undergraduate schooling, I pursued my graduate studies in OH as well and then stayed in the state as I started my adult life and professional life. My husband & I started a family, bought a house, formed new adult friendships, strengthened existing friendships, and really formed a community that we called family (since neither of our families lived in OH). Our community of friends was our family and we were invested in our community of people. For 13 years, we put our stamp on Ohio.

About a couple years ago, we moved to SD. Prior to moving here, I was rather unfamiliar with much about SD, ND, WY, UT, NE, let alone remember where they were exactly on a map. #truthmoment

Night time sky in SD

God directly pointed that this was the move for us to make and to trust Him. And I did… for the most part. I found it bittersweet- I was kinda looking forward to a new adventure in life that God was guiding us towards, yet saying “see ya later” to all my people was not easy. Cue the ugly tears. I had to keep remembering all the ways that God was pointing us to make this big decision. I remember telling myself- You’ve moved before, you can certainly do it again… and you’ll make [more] friends there. 

And I did, with some bumps.

Note: There is this underlying part of me that kinda enjoys the adventure of it. But still, it’s taking action even when you’re scared.

The bumps

The first 3 months 6 months after moving were hard reallyreallyreally hard for me, especially for the social butterfly, in the upper midwest, in the winter, in a smaller community.

You know when something big happens in your life- positive or negative- sometimes it feels funny or weird that the whole world is still able to continue along in their business while your world has kinda stopped for a moment? Moving from OH to SD was one of my moments like that. I felt like the whole world stopped for a moment and I had to gather my bearings- where am I? At one point I remember telling myself- if you want to feel connected, you’ve got to go out and do it. Just start to get out there.

Minus my husband who was working during the day + training, I was kinda figuring it out alone. (spoiler: that’s where I grew so much) I’m thankful I had this time to soak up with my kids at home… yet adults need other adults to community with because PARENTING. And LIFE. I was aching to connect with people yet I dearly missed my close community of friends. I heard a bunch of varying advice from people about making friends as an adult in a new community-

  • “Just fake it ’til you make it.”
  • “Just enjoy this new time soaking up this new community.”
  • “Just go visit a bunch of new places to start making new friends.”

Well.

The authenticity

I decided to just do my own thing, and that was to be authentic (not fake) and frankly, vulnerable, because I already felt raw, new, and unfamiliar after moving… so let’s just roll with it. I visited new places in town and casually met people. It wasn’t like I was hunting for new friends, I tried to let it happen organically.

My authenticity and vulnerability shined through naturally when people would ask me how I was doing since the move. I would typically respond with a smiley “I’m doing alright” (which was honest. I wasn’t feeling like roses nor was I doing terrible), but if they were interested in engaging more in a conversation, I was honest and real. I was honest, I was me, and I was authentic & vulnerable. And funny enough, those who really cared- they ended up being authentic and vulnerable too. I just had to take the first step. 

Those who really cared- they ended up being authentic and vulnerable too. I just had to take the first step.

But interestingly, I had already taken so many steps already. God was guiding me every step of the way.

 

Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD

The change

After a year and a half, I can say I have formed some good friendships in my community and I am ever so thankful. Let me repeat that- I’m so so so thankful for where I am today. I have grown and opened my eyes to new things (which is the bittersweet beauty of going through ‘growing pains’). For me, the change happened after 6 months after the move. Spring came, people were outside, our calendar was booked with a lot of things to do and I started to slowly feel like a new version of me. A me that grew a lot in a short amount of time. And I’m still growing.

As I reflect on those beginning days (which were really not that long ago), I remember how everyday- even lonely days– I would focus on my thankfulness. It was identifying things that I was thankful for because thankfulness and gratitude are the positive building blocks during growing pains. 

because thankfulness and gratitude are the positive building blocks during growing pains.

Now that it’s spring time again, I’m in a completely different place than I was one year ago at the 6 month mark. And so much as changed for me. My eyes are more open, I’m more authentic and vulnerable than ever before, and whether or not I realized it at the time- I was saying my thankfulness every step of the way, and it helped. I’m forever thankful for my long-lasting friendships that will always stand the test of time (and distance), but also new friendships in new communities!

Thank God. #literally

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