When I first moved to Menominee, Michigan I felt like a complete outsider. I spent the better part of my days teaching myself how to write html code (this was before I knew about website building platforms) and writing blog posts about nutrition and posting online for those poor, ignorant souls on Facebook. My social life included my once weekly physical therapy appointment to get the range of motion (ROM) back for my pinky finger, which I had broken just 2 months prior to moving. Eventually I (and my business) became well-known in the town and I felt as though I were a part of the fabric of the community.
So, I moved to Portland, Oregon just 6 weeks ago, and I’m starting from scratch. I’ve just been translated and it’s time for me to start putting down roots. Here are some of my tips for making a home in a new community. (And I’m taking my own advice!)
Give it 7 minutes. A few months ago, I overheard a statistic (take it or leave it: I don’t have a single source) that it takes seven minutes for new acquaintances to find a common thread. So the next time you meet someone at a party, spend at least 7 minutes of “work” in the conversation and then I give you permission to leave. It could be that, after 7 minutes of effort, the conversation flows effortlessly and you’ve made a new friend in life.
Say yes. As an introvert, I wish I could skip the first year of a friendship and start up with the comfort of a 1-year-old friendship. The kind of friendship where, after a rough day, you can walk into her home without knocking, pour a glass of wine, and watch a funny movie without having to be polite to each other. All of the firsts seem like work: the first coffee date, the first dinner, the first game night. Just say yes! Even if it feels like work, it is better than feeling alone and alienated in a new part of the world.
Join a class. The amazing and, simultanteously challenging, thing about a city is that there are so many options. I’ve joined about 25 meet up groups, however I’ve not attended one single event. There are soccer clubs, volleyball clubs, running clubs, women entrepreneur clubs, writing clubs, hiking clubs, outdoorsy clubs, and a billion more. Meetup.com is a good way to find out about local events, however you can also join a yoga studio, a martial arts studio, your local library, a gym, volunteer at a food pantry, the list goes on. Limit yourself to 5 groups or less otherwise, like I’m noticing with myself, you may avoid making a choice if there are too many choices to make.
Go on a walkabout. Last night I decided to walk around my neighborhood and see what there was to see on foot. Driving is nice because it’s warm and safe. But that’s why we go on a walkabout. When you’re walking, it means you are more integrated in your neighborhood. If you live in the country, drive into your new town, park your car and walk around your new town. I took a book with me just in case I found a coffee shop to pop into and read a little.