It was only 8 months ago when I packed every little thing I could fit into my Jetta and drove 2,687 miles from Asheville, North Carolina to Newport Beach, California. I was excited, nervous, and still reeling from the job offer that was allowing me to make this huge move. My dog Beau and I set off on a new adventure, from evergreen mountains to the bright blue waters of Southern California.
In the beginning, I never felt alone. I spent 50 hours a week in a large, open-plan office surrounded by mostly people in my age group. We had a keg, Foosball table, and a spacious kitchen where plenty of socializing occurred. I didn’t spend a lot of time with people outside of work, but that was okay because I was too busy and too tired when I got home. Except for two disastrous first dates, I didn’t put myself “out there” at all.
After 7 months and plenty of introspection, it was clear that this job was no longer a good fit. My mental health was suffering and I was very isolated. I spent so much time at work, worrying about work, on-call for work, crying about work. Which is why when I quit to pursue freelance writing and a remote, flexible career, I felt like I had been dropped straight on my face.
I had spent so much time obsessed with my job, I neglected to make any true friends and connections. I didn’t have a community.
We as humans are wired for the need to establish healthy, supportive, connections with others. Without those connections, isolation can spiral any of us into depression or cause/exacerbate social anxiety. That’s why it is imperative that the first thing you do when moving to a new place is to build and surround yourself with a community of good people.
How do you find your good people?
How you find your community of good people may vary based on personality type, interests, etc. There are some great online resources like:
However, you don’t have to go online to meet new people. The following random activities have actually landed me some awesome friends in the past:
- Go to a bookstore and strike up a conversation with someone who is looking at the same genre, or looking at a book you’ve read before.
- Go to certain restaurants, bars, and coffee shops regularly. You eventually see the same people, even if it’s just the staff.
- Ask around your current friend group to see if they know anyone in that area and can make an introduction.
The important thing is that you actively try to build a community of people that support you, challenge you, and make you feel…at home. Because this new city is your new home, and that can be such an exhilarating, life changing thing.