Your willingness to be open and vulnerable can be a major help.
At some point in our lives we will find ourselves looking for a new community. It might be because we switched jobs or schools, and that forced us to move to a different new city or state where we do not know anyone.
We are wired to desire connection with other people, especially when we are in a new setting and feeling isolated or lonely. Studies have shown that having solid communities and friendships in our lives will help us live longer. The research conversely suggests that loneliness can have a significant and negative impact on our mental and physical health.
In her book, “Daring Greatly” Brené Brown says “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Throughout “Daring Greatly,” Brown talks about how our desire to be known and our fear of being rejected are at odds with each other. However, the only way to finding solid community with deep, personal connections is to show up and be who you are, not what you think will endear you to others.
It’s intimidating to seek out a community in a new place. Here are three ways you can meet people while still being true to who you are.
Become a regular
One of the easiest ways to find a community is to start showing up to the same places again and again. Look for a local coffee shop or restaurant within your price range, and start going there regularly. It can be once a week or every workday. Say hello to the staff and whenever you feel comfortable enough, start introducing yourself to the other regulars. Having a place that is “yours” can help you feel settled and comfortable enough to chat up those around you.
Get in a group
When you join a group you’re guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with every person you meet. It can be sports, creativity, food-tasting, reading or anything else you’re interested in. An easy to to find these groups is Meetup, which has 24 main interest categories that have various groups that get together weekly or monthly to do something in your area. If you’re looking for something active check out stores such as REI, which have classes and events you can join that will help you get to know what your area has to offer.
Find your cause
No matter where you end up, there will be no shortage of need in the city or town. Search for local organizations on social media or through the local news that addresses the issue that you care about most, and sign up for the next meeting.
If you have already spent time investing or volunteering in an organization, see if it has any branches in your new city. If not, research the organization’s partners and see if you can get involved in similar work.
Don’t have a specific cause that you are passionate about? Research the area’s top needs and the organizations addressing those issues. Another option for those who might not feel a tug toward a specific issue is to start volunteering in your church once you find one. Most churches will have opportunities to directly serve the surrounding community.
Finding community can be the final piece to feeling at home in a new city. Chances are you probably won’t make deep connections within the first few meetups or church events. But if you keep showing up and stay committed to being vulnerable, gradually you will find what you are looking for.