Last June our family relocated from Chicagoland to Northwest Arkansas. We moved with no family or friends; we didn’t know anyone. While this was really scary, my husband and I created a fairy tale likeness in our minds – we were “adulting” for real this time! No mommy or daddy to bail us out if we screwed up (again). At the time, I thought we were interesting and brave – EVERYONE would want to meet us and know our story…we would be the new shiny toy; special and different from everyone else!
My fairytale didn’t last too long, when I quickly realized that about 98% of North West Arkansas residents are also transplants. I was, in fact, not particularly interesting. So I set out to make new friends. I thought, surely there are lots of other moms who would want to hang out, right? There sure are! And ya know what made me stand out from everyone I met? I was WAY older! My kids are WAY older! Not only am I definitely NOT trying to get pregnant, nor am I pregnant, I do not have an infant, toddler or young school-aged child to help bail me out of awkward situations!
So what do you do when you just don’t fit in? Here’s what I did:
- Use social media: For me, FaceBook has been hands down the best way for me to meet other people. I joined Mom’s Groups, Neighborhood Pages and followed community events. Sometimes my husband and kids came along; other times I had to show up by myself. THAT was SUPER scary!
- I put my phone away: I found that it was much easier to meet new people when my face wasn’t buried in my phone. While it was much more comfortable to appear to be really busy and important with all my texts, emails and notifications, once I turned off my ringer and looked around, I realized that there were a lot of other people who looked kinda scared too. I made a beeline for them and hoped for the best!
- No more excuses: None!! Nada!! Zip!! With my kids being older, the old standby, “the baby is sick”, isn’t valid. Neither is “I can’t find a sitter that night/day/ever”. I just had to get out there and do it. Sometimes I had to drive around and talk my self into showing up; sometimes I had to ride out the waves of nausea brought on by anxiety and fear, praying I wouldn’t puke on anyone.
The bottom line is just show up! Be scared and nervous and awkward and sweaty – because so is everyone else! I have met so many amazing people in the year that we have lived here, and they have all had awesome qualities that have helped me be a better person. I have developed strong friendships with some moms and have broken up with others – and that’s ok!! We don’t all have to be BFF’s! Some have stayed FB Friends while others I see weekly. Some have nursing infants and others have grown children who have moved out of the house (ummmm #goals!!!).
It would be so much easier to sit at home and stay safe, but I don’t want life to pass me by while I scroll through everyone else’s adventures. So I am taking Nike’s advise – JUST DO IT!