Monday, March 19, 2012

Bloomin' Monday - What NOT To Do

I hope you have enjoyed this little series on how to Bloom Where You're Planted - dealing with moving to a new town.  Everything I have written about has focused on how to get to know people, get involved, and put down roots.  So to wrap up, here's the one thing NOT to do: stay isolated.

It's amazing how easy it can be to just stay in your own little cocoon after moving to a new town, especially if you're an introvert like me.  Even if you're working outside the home, it's easy to get into a routine involving a few different places, get to know just a couple of people, and stay closed off to the rest of the world.

If you move frequently, this can become even more challenging.  "Why bother getting to know people when we'll probably just be moving again soon?"  "I won't be here long enough to even make friends so why even try."  "It hurt so badly the last time we had to leave good friends.  I don't want to go through that again."

It's a good thing for a move to be painful.

Let me say that again.  It's a GOOD thing for a move to be painful.  That means that you have invested your life into people, put down roots.  It's not good to leave and have no one even realize that you've left.

I know this from personal experience.  I really enjoyed living in Seattle.  I had a job that I loved (highly motivated students, wonderful fellow faculty, supportive leadership, etc.).  I would have gladly continued to work there for many years to come.  Seattle is a beautiful city, so different from where I had grown up.  I loved telling people back home that I lived in Seattle.  There was always this look of admiration in their eyes.

When David graduated from the University of Washington, he got a job in Jacksonville, Florida.  Thankfully, I also found a job right away, teaching math at a community college just as I had been doing in Seattle.  But it wasn't the same at all.  The students had abysmal math skills and very little motivation.  The faculty and staff were nice but not super-friendly.  We joined a Sunday school at a huge church but just never felt connected to the class.  To say that David was my only friend at the time would not have been an understatement.

This all combined with a number of other factors to put me into quite a tailspin, emotionally.  While much of it I feel was inevitable, I do think that the effect was magnified because I felt so isolated.  I had no family nearby (my parents were living in Ecuador at the time), I had just turned 30 (which set off all sorts of unexpected feelings in me), and I had no one I felt I could really talk to (besides my husband who, by the way, was awesome during this time).  It was a really rough year.  In fact, sometimes I still get very emotional thinking about it.

Thankfully, the Lord provided a way for us to move to Knoxville.  I was still not in great shape but making a lot of improvement.  I started praying for a fun friend, and He provided Rose.  You can read about her here.  From there I met another neighbor.  Then we got involved in our church, went on a mission trip, and eventually had lots of friends - many of whom we are still in contact with, thanks to Facebook.

I taught math again in Knoxville.  The students there also had abysmal math skills and little motivation.  I actually had even fewer friends at work because I was just teaching part-time.  But that didn't matter at all because I had lots of other people in my life.

Making friends is NOT an instant thing - at least not for me.  As I've said before, it has been my experience that it usually takes a full year (at least) before you will feel like you are a part of your community.  But it CAN happen.  Even for complete wallflowers like me.

So what are you waiting for?  If you haven't moved yet, try to make some contacts before you even get there.  Buy some brownies on your very first grocery trip and bake some for your new neighbors.  Join groups of people in your same stage of life.  Get involved in your church.  And then, once you've gotten yourself established (or even before!), be on the lookout for other people in need of friends.  I promise you, it's worth the effort!

This post may be linked up to one or more of the following blog parties.  Check them out! Monday: Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie, Wednesday: Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family, Friday: 5 Minute Friday at The Gypsy Mama, Company Girl Coffee at Home Sanctuary

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