Friday, May 24, 2013

On Being The New Girl

It's awkward to wiggle your way into new friendships. When moving to a new city, you meet mostly people who already have their own circle of friends, their established trust, their shared memories, and their inside jokes. It is intimating to try and meld into that. It's not that people are unkind or unfriendly, they are simply creatures of habit and it is easy to move through life's routine without noticing the new girl.

I was guilty of a similar attitude back home in Arizona. I never joined a "mom's group" when I had the twins and I was even hesitant to started attending the Bible study group at our previous church. Why? Mainly because I was fulfilled, occupied, and content with the friendships I already had. I didn't see the point in exerting time and energy making new friends. I'm happy with the ones I got, thanks.

So with that memory in mind, I realize that I have to be the one to make the effort to form new friendships here. It is unlikely that someone is going to just up and invite the new girl out for a good heart-to-heart over a steaming cup o' joe. More likely than not, I will have to be the one to initiate the playdates, the dinners, and the coffee talks. The age-old advice of, "You've got to be a friend to make friends" really is true. Socially awkward at times - but true.

Even so, it is easy - even as "the new girl" - to get caught up in my own routine without making the effort to meet new people. Another week, another month, flies by as I'm caught up in my daily tasks and habits until I realize - wow, it's been a whoooole lot of days since I've talked face-to-face with someone other than my husband and children.

Now let me interject here that my husband has been an amazing encouragement to me during this move - allowing me to share my heart (and often my tears) and creating opportunities for us to get out a do fun things together as a family. I am incredibly grateful for this. But as much as I love my husband and enjoy spending time with him, he can not completely fill my need for friendship - especially not in the area of female relationships (for obvious reasons). And while highly entertaining at times, my children aren't real great conversationalists at the moment. (Though their unsolicited hugs do my heart a great deal of good.)

Yet even after five months in a new city and a great deal of loneliness, I still sometimes have the mindset of, "I don't need new friends - I'm happy with the ones I've got, thanks." Which is a problem because those dear friends of mine live 800 miles away. And while we stay in contact regularly (thank you, technolgy), we can't really live our lives together any more. We can't watch our kids play together while we swap mommy war-stories. We can't meet up for coffee or have a much-needed girls night out.  We can't laugh ourselves to tears while playing Pictionary after a couple of home-made margaritas. We can't offer a hug when life is painful and words just aren't enough.

With memories such as these, it is hard to make the mental shift that I need to build new friendships here in Colorado. The fact that doing this is awkward and takes a lot of effort on my part isn't a great motivator, but I shouldn't allow it to be a deterrent either.

I have to remind myself that the girlfriends that I miss so much were once complete strangers to me. I once had to wiggle my way into their circle, into their routine. I was once "the new girl" to them. It took time to form the deep relationships that we have shared for so many years now.

Humans were designed to need each other, and there are some needs that can't be filled from 800 miles away. Despite how wonderful my girlfriends back home are, the need to build relationships here is a great one. And while there are still many lonely days, ever so slowly, I'm starting to see the buds of friendship grow in the handful of acquaintances that I've made here. While I long for the closeness I shared with my friends back home, I have to trust that similar depth will form with the relationships I'm building here. Until then, it will just be one introduction, one "hi, how are you?", one slightly awkward invitation to dinner at a time. Then one day, I'll look at those friends and marvel at the fact that we were once complete strangers.


  1. oh man! I wish it were easier. I am acutely aware that since I've been in my town for 10 years, that I need to be the one reaching out to the new girl. When I first moved here, people were just not accepting friend applications lol. It was a seriously awful time and I will never forget it. and I think it goes both ways. I think both the new girls and the established girls need to make an effort. It's too hard for the new girl otherwise and she will eventually end up bitter. It's good for people to share their friends with the new girl!

  2. Hi Jen, I hear you. At one point in my life my husband was working with an international company and we moved 7 times in 12 years. With kids. And what I found is that you have to give yourself the time to grieve the life you left behind before you can move on with the new one in front of you. I also learned that you are exactly right, you have to make the effort to call new people, join new groups, go to places where you will find your new girlfriends. There are just some things you need girlfriends for. And you are also correct about it being hard to work yourself in to other people's lives and routines. They don't always realize how hard it is being the new person. Keep trying, the girlfriends you need are out there, I promise.


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