I recently moved to the D.C. area, leaving behind some of my favorite friendships. It felt overwhelming to start all over again. How do you begin to build brand new relationships after spending almost a decade with women who saw me through thick and thin?
However, I quickly realized that I wasn’t starting from scratch. My friends have helped build me into a better person, and I can enter new friendships knowing I have a lot to offer. I’m a better friend because of them and their strengths are engrained in me.
If this sounds too metaphysical, stay with me. Here are the top 5 tips I’ve learned from them that have helped me make a new home here.
- Say Yes. I am typically aboard the “no” train, understanding that too many “yeses” quickly leads to me becoming overburdened by my commitments. But when you show up to a new place, hoping to make friends, you need to be open to whatever comes at you. You can weed things out later on, but for now, say “yes” and be open-minded to meeting new friends in every place.
- Don’t be afraid to host or let moving boxes stop you from inviting others into your home and life. You don’t need to throw a fancy dinner party. You could do something simple, like afternoon coffee or evening desserts. Don’t wait for an invitation; seek out others and invite them in.
- Remember Your Strengths. Are you a great listener? A hilarious extrovert? A go-getter? An intellectual? When you move to a new city, all your strengths seem to wash away, leaving you feeling unknown and insecure. It’s not true! Just because you are unknown in a new place doesn’t mean you are less of who you are. Be you, even through the rough patches when someone may not quite get your hilarious jokes.
- Dish Out Compliments. Ok, I know this sounds like you are literally paying for friendship with compliments. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Be kind. If you like someone’s new shoes, tell them. If you appreciate your grocer’s care in putting frozen things in one bag, let the man know. If a four-year-old toddler is being super well-behaved while getting his haircut, tell the parent you’re impressed! It’s easy to start a friendship from a place of appreciation and kindness.
- Fit In: Obviously, don’t change who you are for the crowd, but take stock of the area and find out what other people enjoy. We were shocked that every summer weekday around 6 PM our new neighborhood comes to life, and people pour out of their houses for evening walks. I can walk! And on weekends, the neighborhood playgrounds are full of children. We can go to playgrounds! My neighbors like to have tea in the afternoons. I love tea! Find out what the people around you seem to enjoy, say “yes” and jump in.
Moving is hard. Making friends as adults is harder. So much credit is owed to the women who have seen me through many stages of life. I now pay it forward to my new friends and approach them with strength and confidence, an open mind and possibly a warm appreciation of their fancy new shoes.