When a person starts kindergarten, one of the pieces of advice that a parent usually gives is to try to make a friend the first day. For some children this is an easy task, especially if they are social and outgoing by nature. Others tend to struggle with living out this piece of advice because they are shy and more introverted. Whichever the case might be, most children seem to be able to make at least one friend by the end of their first week. Aiding this task is the reality that there is a captive group of children in one room with the same piece of advice and dealing with the same challenges. They have some automatic commonalities.
Moving to a new community usually places a person into a similar situation as the first day of school. The person is in a new environment and is encountering people who are not familiar. Making new friends is easier if certain conditions create natural connections. An example would include having children who attend the same school and are part of a school group together. Parents who go to support their children in an extracurricular activity often engage in conversations at the various events so a bond begins to form and friendships develop.
Another example would be if the person joins a community group or faith community. Attending meetings, fundraisers, and activities provide a natural opportunity for relationships to form. In this case there is some shared interest which brings people together. Already having an interest in common with another person makes conversation easier. Sharing of personal information and stories becomes natural. Friends are found.
However, if you are an adult, do not have school-aged children or an opportunity to join a local group, making friends becomes much more difficult. This is something which my husband and I have experienced since our move at the beginning of the year. We have begun forming relationships with a few of our neighbors but schedules and commitments do not always allow for time to interact in more than just friendly greetings. Previously we were part of an awesome faith community which allowed us to establish many friendships. My husband also had been actively involved in a YMCA swim program as a coach, so he had some pre-established friendships before I moved to join him. To date, we have not been able to find a faith community which connects with our spiritual needs. Nor have we found a community group in which we have shared interests.
I share all this because I have come to realize that even for a more extroverted person, making friends is not always the easiest. As we prepare to move from our rental home to own our home, my hope is that we will be able to find connections in our new neighborhood that will assist us in developing meaningful and lasting friendships like the ones we still have back in Iowa.