Let’s be honest, once you’re out of school it becomes way more difficult to be social and build a new community in a brand new place. Add marriage and kids into the mix and it becomes even more challenging to find time for anything but your family. Not that this is at ALL a bad thing (because it most definitely is not!), but it can be isolating and keep you closed off from others, especially when you move to a new city and know absolutely no one. Last year we moved out of central LA and into a smaller surrounding city that is much more family friendly. Though I absolutely love it here, one of the hardest parts about the move was moving further away from my friends. I’ve always been lucky enough to have family members or longtime friends live right down the street, so this was definitely new for me. Small talk is my personal worst nightmare (if you’ve met me, you know I’m absolutely terrible at it), so getting outside of my home-life bubble was definitely a bit of an uncomfortable stretch, but in order to form a strong local support system for myself and my family, I knew I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone and seek opportunities to connect with new people. The question then became, “Where do I find genuine, kind, and reliable humans to form relationships with as an adult?” After almost a year in this new city, this is what I’ve come up with…
Friends of Friends
I remember when we first decided to move and people were just learning about our plans. More often than not we’d hear, ”Oh, my _____ lives there. I should give you their info!” It’s crazy how small the world is, and how someone always seems to have a friend or acquaintance they’re dying to introduce you to. So let them! Tap your closest resources first. These are the people you already love and trust, so most likely whoever they introduce you to will have common interests, similar mindsets, and a personality that meshes well with yours. The bonus is that you can have group get togethers with your mutual friend and expand your circle quickly.
Another way to find genuine people is to get out of the house and frequent family-friendly places. My kids love a trip to Dave and Busters (who doesn’t!?), where there are always a ton of families out and about. Not that everyone is going to be the perfect match as playmates, but we often notice some of the same people wherever we go; whether that be a specific arcade, restaurant, playground, store, or park. By letting common interests dictate who we are around, we may find ourselves another family looking for people who share the same interests and hobbies.
Sometimes we don’t even have to leave our building to find families with common interests! Our new building is set up to surround a beautiful enclosed area with a pool, BBQ patio, work space, gym, and other lifestyle amenities that many residents take advantage of on a daily basis. No surprise, but last summer my kids spent most of their time at the pool. I found myself constantly talking with other parents, and interacting with a lot of other kids from the building. This was an excellent way to get to know our neighbors. It’s comforting to know that there are other sets of eyes on the safety of my kids, and to also be able to offer the same support in return!
Jumping a little bit away from meeting other child-bearing families, a great way to find genuine adults is through work. Adam and I have it a little different because we mostly work for ourselves. But even so, through photography, acting, and blogging, we often find ourselves working alongside others, whether that be a client, an assistant, or a co-star. The workforce is always a reliable place to meet people because you spend large stretches of time together, and already have common interests through lifestyle and passion of occupation.
And last but not least, turning to members of our congregation is always a wonderful way to meet kind, new, people. Not only are places of worship already all about community and leaning on one another for support, but they also tend to draw in those who are genuinely looking to connect, and be the best humans they can be.
I’m not saying that I’ve successfully executed all these social experiments quite yet, but I am definitely going to continue to use these ideas to grow my family’s social network in our new city. Please comment below and let me know some of your best tricks to meet new, genuine, people!