Start over, but where are my friends?

Have you ever changed schools, moved houses, left one job for another and realized that by doing so you are starting over and leaving all your friends behind? Going off to college, getting divorced, moving on are often exciting times, but they can be filled with fear nonetheless.

While we may have considered many factors, the impact on our friendship groups may be something we don’t fully appreciate until much later.

Starting over can be a foreboding moment anyway; having to learn where everything is, where we’re supposed to be, what we should be doing. There can be a lot to remember and doing these things can only make everything that much more difficult. Missing out on having a friendly, familiar face to share coffee and chat with can make the first few months of shyness quite uncomfortable and lonely.

Friends can be a source of comfort and security, a hug in times of discomfort. But true friends also care enough to give us a push when needed, encouraging us to keep going and keep going, instead of allowing us to feel sorry for ourselves for too long.

Here are some tips for when we start over and ask, ‘where are my friends?’

– Take care of yourself. Starting over may mean that others have already established their friendship groups. If you’re the new kid on the block, it’s important that you don’t seem desperate to make friends. Take care of yourself. You may have been through some tough times on your way to starting over, or you may be feeling vulnerable about leaving home for the first time. The thought of making an effort to get up, dress, and introduce yourself can be daunting.

– Start by being kind to yourself and commit to eating healthy, getting regular sleep, and getting plenty of fresh air. There are times when you’ve been the new guy before, so remember that things tend to work out in the end.

– May be a good first step is moving into a shared house while he finds his feet. Other occupants may be in a similar position to you, so you can support each other. A shared house can offer a bit of security: there is often someone to talk to, as well as being available for friendship. Or moving in with family or friends can ease financial pressure and provide a temporary buffer.

– Some situations are already conducive to meeting new friends.. Shared housing, work, special interest groups, and parent associations can offer convenient ways to meet and connect. But for others, being friendless and starting over requires the effort to be proactive and identify places where kindred spirits can go. Joining a gym, a dance class, using public transportation, even walking the dog at regular times often means bumping into the same people on a regular basis. A friendly smile or nod of acknowledgment can gradually turn into a comfortable conversation and possible friendship.

– Keep in contact with your old circle of friends through social networks, the web, application groups and regular calls. Even if those moments make you nostalgic or a little annoying, keep in touch and find ways to stay interested in each other’s lives. Maybe schedule a regular call for a proper chat so you can kick back with a beer and stay in close contact, especially at first.

– Make invitations. Take it easy, make an effort and start by proposing a coffee and a chat. If money is a factor, you could invite them over to yours for a bite to eat, a night of pampering, or a game night. Don’t take rejection personally and instead take an interest in meeting new people, learning about them and their lives.

– Gradually become familiar with what is happening locally. If you hear of something exciting or of general interest, why not tentatively suggest a way out to someone in your new circle? It is a good way to meet people.

– Accept invitations. Don’t prejudge what you’ll like or how you’ll feel about ‘everyone else’. Join them, relax and be nice for a few hours in their company doing something different. You can choose not to repeat the experience, but you’ve still made some new contacts.

– Ask for help. It can be tempting to fall into a “don’t want to be a bother or burden” mentality, but asking for help can build bridges to new relationships. Staying private and keeping your insecurities secret can be misconstrued as coping, unwilling to share with others, or even hostile. Keep your own advice, but also be ready to connect and let others in.

Starting over can be a challenge, but relaxing, being friendly and interested is often enough to ensure that in no time you have settled down with lots of new friends to enjoy.

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