Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finding your way in a new town

Moving to a new town or city is a major life change.  Relocating has it's challenges, rewards, joys and some sadness too.  I've come to realize that every place I've lived is unique and I can't go into a new environment and expect it to be just like the previous one.  This is my reality so I've put together my thoughts on how to navigate your way as you move to a new setting:

  • Try to look at a move as an adventure even though you may be experiencing some grieving.  While "leaving" means some sadness, going to a different place will mean  new people and fresh experiences, both work related and personal, that will enhance your life.  Look forward to the "good" even though you can't see it yet.  
  • Do some exploring.  Take time to see what your new area has to offer.  Most regions have publications that highlight entertainment, local businesses and organizations.  Research your new environment and see what it has to offer. 
  • Avoid making assumptions.  Instead ask questions.   You'll put your foot in your mouth fewer times by observing how people do things and asking questions if you are unsure of something.  Most people are more than happy to answer inquiries.  You are showing respect for traditions in your new surrounding by trying to understand their way of doing things.
  • Making friends takes time.  This is a tough one.  Often you have to be the one who is pro-active in the process.  Showing an interest in others and their lives will hasten the friendship process.  Take walks in your neighborhood, speak to people, introduce yourself and be positive in your comments.
  • Talk about your feelings with family members.  Children often need reassurance and a great deal of encouragement after a move.  My first move occurred in the middle of 8th grade and involved a 2,200 mile change from one home to another.  It's alot to process.  Keeping lines of communication open in your family will go a long way in facilitating a healthy adjustment for everyone. Some will adjust quicker than others. Sensitivity with one another helps greatly.
  • Keep in touch with old friends who will encourage you even though you don't live near them anymore.  We all have friends who boost our confidence levels and attitudes.  And we know others who may drag us down.  This is a time to stay in contact with those who have positive outlooks on life and have been through challenging changes and made healthy adjustments.  Their outlook will motivate you. 
  • Be patient with yourself in the process of adapting.  Depending on your personality and the magnitude of the change involved, it will likely take 1-2 years to be comfortable and feel settled in your new surrounding.  You may experience some disappointing realizations...joining an organization you think you'll like only to realize you don't share much in common with other participants, or trying different churches and struggling to figure out where you belong.  Don't give up.  Keep trying new things until you find something that is a good fit for you.

Most of us have one place we've lived that stands out with a special fondness. Enjoy those memories and realize that you can still be content and productive in other places.

Since the trauma of my first move in 8th grade, I've come to welcome the experience of relocating.  It increases my awareness of others and draws me closer to God as I rely on Him for wisdom and guidance.  I'm looking forward to making some new friends and seeking ways to participate in and serve my community.