Three Steps to Building Community
Three Steps to Building Community
Building your community truly consists of 3 simple steps. Simple to understand steps.
- Doing what you LOVE
- Dating the community
- Choosing vs. Settling
The goal of these steps is to take advantage of the clean slate of relocation and only invite into life that which serves and supports the life desired.
Doing what You LOVE
Doing what you love is just that, seeking out what you like to do in the new community. That is where you will find others, here, who love what you love.
These activities can be found on programs like MeetUp, at businesses (riding clubs from a bike shop), through the chamber of commerce, the local parks and rec department, the library, and churches. The last two Jazzercise groups I found were at a local church and the other was a city recreation center. You never know. Look everywhere.
Whether you want to play in an orchestra, do volunteer career counseling, train for a marathon, learn a language or hang out with other people who read Brene Brown, these activities are everywhere. It is important to not assume they are only in one type of place.
Doing what you love vs. trying something new
Participate in an activity you already know and love. This makes every outing into the new community a rewarding experience. Regardless of whether the people you meet are friendship material or not, you do something you love. This makes finding friend prospects a bonus.
Yes, the point here is to meet other people. However, we can never count on our future friends to be there. We cannot count on our tribe revealing themselves to us in a first meeting.
When interacting with the community early on, choosing activities we already know we like allows us to control the experience and therefore our expectations. We walk in knowing, we have a win. We do not depend on other people for our happiness or contentment. In the early months of relocation, this can become an obsessive focus. When we count on ourselves and we can create joy regardless of others actions or interest.
That joy we create within ourselves will ultimately will be what attracts new friends to us.
Dating the Community
The idea of dating the community can be off putting, perhaps exhausting. Like we need one more thing, one more unknown to suck energy from us during relocation.
But that is why you start with what you love. The second reason to begin with what you love is because in order to figure out which of these people would be good friends for you, you must spend time with them.
Finding a friend is not like seeing your soul mate friend across the room.
Your eyes meet and both of you are struck with the thought, “That is my new best friend.” From that point on both of you have a friend to do everything with. That is only a Hallmark movie type of things…and in that case romantic.
One of the things I learned over my many relocations is that “Friendships Don’t just Happen”. That is also an enlightening book by Shasta Nelson. Friendships take time, an investment on both sides.
I know THAT is not what you want, especially if the boxes are unpacked and everyone else int he family is plugged in. At this point, you are wondering if all there is anything more to life than dishes and laundry. With your actual friends being across the county or on the other side of the world that exhaustion can just set in with a side of why bother.
But bother, you must. You can do this. And in your heart of hearts, you know how you will feel on the other side. Those friends so many miles away are proof of that, so let’s get started.
Invites and more invites
Invitations extending outward, not toward you…unless you happen to move to Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama then you might receive a few. Most of the invitations will be from you to others.
As you extend invitations know that the first obstacle is the busy established lives of others. They are in a groove. Most people and families have each week laid out roughly as to what happens where they go and what they do. Breaking into that will take some time. No matter how lovely or enticing your invitation, that schedule must be shifted and morphed to accommodate a new activity or invitation no matter how small.
This is both a practical and mental shift for the people you are reaching out to. Both of which affect those weekly activity expectations. Rarely do the delays or nos mean anything about the activity or you. As with many things it has to do with them.
With these delays, nos and perhaps last minute cancellations again it is important to schedule the first couple of “dates” with what you LOVE. And if there is a cancellation, you still have something happy making to do.
Keep inviting and manage your expectations. We have to meet people and spend time with people to create relationships. Those invitation will lead to the dates.
Time equals Connection
When I was struggling to connect in my last city, I decided to research what this was all about. I wanted to figure out why I was having so much trouble. It had been 4 years by this point. Was it me or was it them? Was it this community?
In my research I came across a book called Connecting: The power of Female friendships by Sandy Sheehy. The relationship concept in the book changes how I looked at the place I had landed.
What I learned through “Connecting” was that in order to connect with people, in order to form relationships I needed to spend time with people. We needed to have shared experiences and through that a relationship could find its footing. Without time or shared experiences nothing could be formed. I was expecting that Hallmark movie type connection when that didn’t exist in my world and especially not in the culture I had relocated to.
Which takes us back again to doing what you love. Doing what you love provides that shared experience in a safe non-pressure environment for everyone. No one has expectations except for doing that activity. This is important because when our only goal is to make a friend, that is a bit creepy and just about every person picks up on that.
We have to let people get to know us in a safe and unpressured way. We can only do this through dating. I wish I had another word for that but that is what it is.
And the last words on dating your community…please take your time.
Choosing not Settling
In that first few months of relocation, and if it drags on the first couple of relocation years, when we are not connected and we are still feeling like a flag blown off its flag pole tossing in the wind, we can get desperate.
This is a place that we make poor decision. Poor decisions about what we do and who we let into our lives.
Being desperate for a “friend” leads us to settle for any warm body that will meet our need for connection. We settle for that who without considering the effect they have on us and our family.
When we settle for someone who does not fit who we are or our lives the results are everywhere. We can see them and so can our family.
You know you have settled when:
- That friend date has been exhausting
- It has been all give and serving
- Even doing what you love is draining
- You are agreeing to things you never would have before
- Or you no longer do what you want to do
We all think that all the people in our lives are all there by our choice. But there are many who just kind of got in. And they are not too annoying or harmful to kick out. So it becomes easier to just let them stay.
However, it is time to not live like that anymore. There are no shoulds in relocation because of the clean slate, which creates a wide-open opportunity to choose everything. So, choose according to who you are and what you love.
If you are having trouble figuring out what you want go back to the 3 Step Relocation Workbook and work through the 1st section again. Sometimes we as wives and mothers have spent so much time taking care and managing our families that we do not know what we want in people anymore. We cannot identity who would really work best for us.
Ultimately, the people and the new activities that are best for us are those that encourage and support us to become more of who we are. These people and activities help us grow in our ability to positively impact our lives and the lives of those around us.
We know they are good for us because we pouring into them are creating energy for us not depleting us. And though giving and taking is not an even 50/50, there is enough give and take that both sides benefit from the relationship.
Use Dating the Community time to test all of this, so that you create your interdependent tribe who freely give, receive and support each other in alignment with your needs and values.
On Thursday we will continue this discussion with an interview from Tania Thomas, a serial relocating woman who has lived in multiple countries since she was a little girl. Tania grew up with the world as her community. Listen in as she talk about developing community and its impact on her relocations.
Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify and other podcast players. ReloWomen Podcast.
Have a wonderful week! For more on Building community and all things relocation explore more here on ReloWomen!
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