What to Do When You’re New in Town
Almost a year ago, I relocated to Los Angeles from New York, with only a handful of old college pals making up my fragile friend network. As my one-year anniversary approaches, I’ve been reflecting on how I began to make a place for myself in a strange and unfamiliar environment. Here are some tips that helped me. Hopefully, they’ll help you too.
The World Beyond Your Walls
In New York, you can’t help but be surrounded by more people than you ever want to see in your entire lifetime. In L.A., it’s easy to disappear into your room like a hermit or hobbit (reader’s choice). You could spend forever cleaning and decorating your new digs, but getting outside and exploring your new neighborhood helps you take ownership of the location. Besides, your favorite new taco place is just waiting to be discovered.
Get Off the Grid
Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is really the greatest thing ever invented. But it can also be a horrible, time-sucking vampire if you let it. The warm glow of a computer screen shouldn’t be a substitute for human interaction and constantly emailing with friends from home shouldn’t replace making new friends IRL.
One of the first things I did after moving was sign up for an improv class. I met some cool people (as well as my fair share of eccentrics) and it gave me somewhere to go every week. Taking a new class gives you the chance to express your personality with a group of people that share your interests. So whether it’s comedy, cooking, or nude portraiture (no judgment), just dive in.
Lend a Helping Hand
Volunteering helps you truly get to know your community and it makes a genuine impact. It can also provide structure and support for recent transplants. There are tons of different ways to give back, so you’re sure to find opportunities that will work for you. This is yet another way to meet really amazing folk because good people do good things.
Mo’ New Friends
Making friends in your 20s isn’t quite the same as in elementary school, where cliques are basically formed day one in the classroom. But don’t be discouraged; most people know what it’s like to be new and a lot of people actually find it fun to play tour guide. Let someone show you their favorite joints and just enjoy the ride. You’ll probably meet lots of people along the way and maybe make some recess buddies.
Reconnect with Your Roots
While it may seem awkward to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in ages, it can’t hurt. Worst case: You and your old friend end up meeting once and have a chat about the past. Best case: It reignites a friendship strengthened by a shared history. In my experience, these long, lost friends could turn out being the most important people in your new life.
Give Yourself a Break
Don’t forget: Moving is hard. You can’t expect to feel comfortable right away. When I start to feel anxious, I take a deep breath and remember that this feeling won’t last. The first year is your most challenging, but before long, you won’t be able to believe this place didn’t always feel like home.