I recently move to Asheville, North Carolina after living in Atlanta for most of my life.
When you live in one city for a long time, you establish a lot of friends and acquaintances. I had friends in Atlanta that I'd known since high school, and others I've known for twenty or more years.
You take for granted how effortless friendships are that have so much time and history. You know one another really well, you know what to expect from each other, and even if you don't see your friends every day, you know they are there for you.
Even my new-ish friends in Atlanta had some connection to my long history in the city. In addition to a circle of really close friends, I had an extended group of neighbors, work associates, parents of my kids' friends, and service providers (hairdresser, grocery clerks, etc.) with whom I connected on a regular basis.
You don't realize how these concentric circles of people in your life create a familiarity that feels safe and comforting. They are the mesh netting that holds life in place and gives you a sense of belonging.
I knew before I moved to Asheville that I would miss my friendships, but the excitement of a new adventure to a cool, new city quelled my concerns. The first six months felt like an extended vacation, but as winter set in and the novelty wore off, I began to miss my friends in earnest.
The last time I had to extend myself in the friendship department was nearly 30 years ago when I spent a couple of years in New York City. When you're in your twenties, meeting new people doesn't seem so daunting. I had a full-time corporate job in big city, and there were plenty of opportunities and fun places to meet new people.
But now I work from home in a small town, and I'm past the point of hanging out at clubs or bars to find friends. I've had to stretch myself to find a new tribe of people in my new home town.
Finding new friends isn't always easy and comfortable. Sometimes, as much as you want to have friendships, you'd just rather curl up with a book than attend some social gathering or meet-up with a group of strangers. Especially for introverts, it takes a lot of emotional energy to put yourself out there.
But you can't belly up and remain a hermit forever. You have to find a way to connect with people.