When I moved to a new city, I felt a constant ache of loneliness, until I learned how to make a few good friends.
In the last five years, I not only lost my job, but also my mother to cancer. Then there was social distancing and lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting financial distress resulted in my having to sell my home, pull up my roots that had grown for almost 20 years, and move to a different city. These are some of the most stressful events you can endure in life.
I have always seen myself as an introvert, and my hearing disability also contributes to my quiet and reserved personality. The 17 years I’ve worked at a construction company stretched me to be more social, but I’ve always needed a lot of me-time. And noise fatigue — a symptom of hearing loss — meant I needed a lot of silence, too.
Introverts May Like Their Alone Time, but Still Need Social Contact, Too
Being at home for nearly four years sounds like an ideal lifestyle for an introvert. But, ultimately, humans are social beings — and even introverts need their share of social contact. When I reflect on this period in my life, I remember this constant ache of loneliness.
I knew once I moved and settled, I would have to reach out to others actively. Not only because I needed to make new friends, but networking is also an effective way to find a job when you are new in the city.
So how do you adjust to a new city as an introvert? Here are some ways that have worked for me.
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5 Ways for Introverts to Adjust to a New City
1. Talk to strangers (even if you don’t want to).
Communication is the only way to connect with others and build genuine friendships. Unfortunately, that means doing the one thing introverts don’t generally like — talking to strangers. My hearing loss made this even more challenging. For example, when I started attending a church, the noisy environment of the church’s restaurant meant I had to rely on my lip-reading skills much more.
Striking up conversations with strangers meant that I had to change my mindset and discipline myself to approach, and greet, at least one person before or after each service. I found it helpful to ask them about themselves and share a little about myself, too. Since I needed to find a job, I would tell them why I moved to the city and about my work experience and interests. But you could also bring up something about the sermon and ask them about it. Or about their favorite place in town to grab lunch. The possibilities are endless!
A simple way to practice talking to people is by striking up conversations with cashiers and other workers when shopping. One time, I started chatting with a saleswoman at a clothing shop. I learned that aside from working there and raising her children, she was also studying to further her career. What an inspiring story I would have missed had I not engaged her in conversation! So keep practicing…
2. Find a group to join that speaks to your values and interests.
Approaching and talking to people is a great way to adjust to life in a new city since it enables you to get out of your comfort zone and improve your social skills. But it is essential to build close and long-lasting relationships. The best way is to join a group.
As a Christian, I knew the best place for me to meet like-minded people would be at church. So I researched various churches in the area and narrowed them down to three. Then, I visited all of them to find the one where I felt most at home. I also decided to join a Bible study group.
Once you find the right group, sharing your fears and feelings will be less challenging — and you will get the emotional support you need, too. Soon these study group gatherings became a crucial part of my life, and even getting up early on a Saturday morning was no excuse for me to stay away. I also enjoyed supporting others facing different challenges.
Most of the ladies were also part of an art group — they’d meet one Saturday each month — which I also joined. It allowed me to converse in a more relaxed setting, and I could also explore my creativity through simple art activities. After all, we introverts love deep conversations, as opposed to shallow socializing, so finding a group like this has been perfect!
But you don’t have to join a church. Look for groups that share your interests, hobbies, or passions, like photography, writing, music, and so on. You’re bound to find one, if not several, options!
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
3. Explore your new environment, like fun places nearby.
Google is a handy tool to find places in your new city, as are local papers and blogs. And we, as introverts, tend to be more than competent at research and planning. Make a list of fun places to visit nearby, and set a goal of exploring a different area once a month — or even every weekend if you are up for the challenge.
You will find that people are often more friendly and approachable in a relaxed environment, as well as more willing to share their knowledge and experiences of the place you are visiting. You may even find a kindred soul who becomes a friend for life.
4. Walk your dog (or a friend’s dog).
Dogs are a great way to meet new people, especially for us introverts. Friendly and inquisitive, dogs will quickly approach people to get acquainted. Naturally, the conversation will center around them, which will help put you at ease. Soon, you will find yourself comfortable conversing about other topics, too. Just watch!
5. Give yourself enough me-time to do self-soothing activities you love.
Being out and about, and interacting with others, can quickly deplete an introvert’s battery. So it is crucial to give yourself plenty of me-time. Since you have recently moved, you can use this time to put the finishing touches on your new place, turning it into a home.
Or, engage in some physical activity, like starting a new garden or going for a long ride on your bike! When I am a little lazy and feel like having a pajama day, I love to curl up in my “introvert zen zone” — my favorite comfy chair with a cup of coffee, my dog sleeping on my lap, and the book I’ve been dying to finish.
It is also good therapy to journal about your new life. It’s a great coping mechanism and a healthy way to “talk about” the many different feelings I’m experiencing, the new places and people I’ve met, and my plans and dreams for the future. And, one day, when I’m more settled and have made a new circle of friends, I can look back at those journal entries and see how much I have grown.
It May Be Tough at First, but You Can Do It, Introvert
We, as introverts, have a unique way of looking at, and dealing with, life. These traits can make it hard for us to adjust to a new environment.
But we also have so much to share. We must challenge ourselves to reach out in our new environment and meet new people. Because, inside, we know we can enrich their lives — but also ours — through the new friends we make.
And is there anything you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
You might like:
- How to Explore Your City Like a Local as an Introvert
- 8 Revelations of an Introvert Living in a Big City
- Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing
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