One is silver and the other’s gold… Anyone else remember that song from Girl Scouts? 🙈 they need to add Scouts honor emojis, for real. Anyway…
When Nick & I moved across the country from Ohio to Utah, it was terrifying.
No matter what age you are, what stage of life you’re in, who you’re going with, or who you know in the area, moving will be equal parts exciting and terrifying.
One of my husband’s friends already lived here in Salt Lake when we got here, so we knew one person. One. Looking back on that after a year, I honestly cannot believe I did it.
Making friends in a new place is scary whether you’re 12 or 22. I was lucky enough to move only once when I was 3, and never again until last year. Believe me when I tell you I was DREADING this part of the move.
I spent the first month unemployed, in a basement that smelled like piss, watching Lie to Me and Criminal Minds in my sweats – that’s how badly I did NOT want to try to meet people.
It’s so awkward. Is it just me? I mean come on. “Hi my name’s Erinn, what’s yours?”
I refuse to start that way. My tactic is usually “those shoes are so cute, where did you get them?!” Hit them with the compliment, people.
Okay, let’s just say I learned a lot about the challenge of making friends in the past year. It’s hard and weird and it might make you want to puke if you’re anything like me, but it’s important.
We were created to be in fellowship and we NEED friendship. Even if some days you’d rather sit in bed with your ice cream than see a person (me) – you still need people.
Making new friends means being really uncomfortable, vulnerable, and sometimes looking like an idiot. All while missing people back home and feeling a little bit like you’re betraying them.
A year ago, we moved to Salt Lake and we knew one person. Nick had a job and for about a month I didn’t, so I sat around watching Netflix. I’m not kidding. I watched all of Criminal Minds and Lie to Me (which I highly recommend by the way) and at one point I even baked every day for a week. Since getting a job I haven’t done that once, if that tells you anything.
I was sad, I missed home, and I let myself drown in self-pity. I also was living in a basement, so I don’t know what else I expected.
Early on, we went to the church our friend had been going to. I became acquainted with a few people there (note: not friendship), but I was – you guessed it – terrified. This was an entirely new city of people to explain my life to, who I wasn’t sure I could trust.
But luckily, we had this church and therein lies my first tip: find a community.
The most important thing for any relationship is some commonality. You’re not going to make friends by walking up to people on the street unless you’re the friendliest person ever and in that case, you suck.
This part was relatively easy for me, I suppose. Our friend had been going to a church nearby and loved it, so we decided to try it out. I will admit, my Catholic-turned-contemporary-silent-church-audience brain was a little spooked by all the people in the congregation saying “that’s good” and “c’mon” to the pastor while he was speaking. I found it really distracting and kind of hated it. Initially, because of that I wanted to try other churches. A friend suggested I give it 6 weeks. So I did.
What made me stick around? The people.
If you’re like me and you have a church but no job, be the brave one. Making friends will be impossible if you wait for someone else to seek you out. Yes, it is terrifying and I wanted to throw up every time I did the whole “Hi, I’m Erinn”, but here comes the annoying cliche – it was worth it.
I never thought I’d be on a stage at church – but I made friends who convinced me it was much better than being afraid.
Maybe you’re the opposite and you have a job when you go somewhere new.
First of all, good for you, that was a great decision, your mom is proud.
Second, talk to people at your job. Even if you think they’re weird, that one casual conversation that isn’t about all the things you don’t understand yet will sky rocket your mood. You also never know whose day you can make by having a simple conversation in the break room.
Ask about the city – what’s your favorite restaurant downtown? What is the best place to go on the weekend? What is the best coffee shop? What is the best place only locals know about?
I realize this sounds obvious. “Duh, Erinn, I know I have to talk to people to make friends.” But here’s the thing – do you want to?
Or do you want to go home and you can entire pint of ice cream while FaceTiming your best friend back home?
Yes, I have done that.
Do you anticipate feeling lonely? You will. It’s inevitable. So have the conversation that makes you feel like barfing.
Tip number ✌🏼: be vulnerable.
Ugh, this is the worst and I hate it. It brings potential for rejection, and everytime I hear that word I want to yell “NO” and stomp my feet like a toddler.
When you move to a new town there will be rejection. Finding a true friend takes a little trial and error.
When I say be vulnerable, I don’t mean spilling your entire life story to a stranger. I mean be the one asking to hang out, getting the person’s number and setting up a time.
For my first few “friend dates”, I let the other person pick where because I wanted to learn as much as I could about restaurants and coffee shops in Salt Lake (I love food and coffee).
This will benefit you in two ways: 1. You will see if people are flaky or if they stick to plans and 2. You’ll get introduced to new places around your new home.
Ask a lot of questions – the vulnerable part is the option of someone bailing on you or saying no to your offer, but don’t give up.
Another vulnerable piece here is sharing your life and what has happened to you. It’s about letting a new person into the situation.
Don’t listen to the voice in your head telling you it’s a mistake to put yourself out there. Ask people to hang out – yes, it’s really awkward and they might look at you like you’re crazy. Maybe they won’t.
One thing I can tell you: I’m really glad I didn’t give up on this.
I have made friendships out here that I am unspeakably grateful for. I know a huge part of this is that I had to try really hard for them. I had to put myself out there and be vulnerable to people I didn’t know. I took a leap and trusted they wouldn’t hurt me.
My final tip is this: find your place
Nick and I moved into an up-and-coming area of Salt Lake last April – out of the basement dungeon. Luckily for me and my caffeine addiction, there is an adorable coffee shop just down the street. I met one of the baristas after being in quite a few times and since then I’ve met most of the employees.
Who knows, you could meet great friends at a place like that, but at the very least, you’ll have the comfort of a familiar environment and familiar faces in a really new and unusual place.
Moving away from home was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I have made really great friends because of it.
Are you moving soon? What are you most nervous about? If you have moved – what was the hardest part for you? I’d love to hear!