Have you ever changed school, moved home, left one job for another and realised that by doing so you're starting again and leaving all your friends behind? Going away to university, getting divorced, moving on are often exciting times but can be full of trepidation nonetheless.
Whilst we may have considered many factors the impact on our friendship groups may be something we didn't fully appreciate until much later down the line.
Starting again can be an apprehensive time 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 alone can make everything so much harder. Missing out on having a friendly, familiar face to share a coffee and a chat with can make the first few self-conscious months quite an awkward and lonely time.
Friends can be a source of comfort and safety, a hug in times of upset. But true friends also care enough to give us a nudge too when needed, encouraging us to move on and keep going, rather than allowing us to feel sorry for ourselves for too long.
Here are a few tips for when we're starting again and asking, 'where are my friends?'
- Look after yourself. Starting again can mean that others have already established their friendship groups. If you're the new kid on the block it's important not to appear desperate to make friends. Look after yourself. You may well have been through tough times on your way to starting out afresh or are feeling vulnerable at having left home for the first time. The thought of making an effort to get up, dress up and turn up may be daunting.
- Start by being kind to yourself and commit to eating healthily, getting regular sleep and plenty of fresh air. There are times when you've been the new kid before so remind yourself that things do tend to work out fine in the end.
- It may be that a good first step is to move into a house share whilst you find your feet. Other occupants may be in a similar position to you and so you're able to provide each other with mutual support. A house share can offer a little security: there's often someone around to talk to, as well as being available for friendship. Or moving in with family or friends can ease the financial pressure and provide a temporary buffer.
- Some situations are already conducive to meeting new friends. Shared accommodation, work, special interest groups, parents' associations can offer convenient ways to meet and connect. But for others having no friends and starting again requires the effort to be proactive and identify places where kindred spirits may go. Joining a gym, dance class, using public transport, even walking the dog at regular times often means bumping into the same people on a regular basis. A friendly smile or nod of recognition can gradually evolve into a comfortable conversation and potential friendship.
- Keep in touch with your old circle of friends through social media, the web, what's app groups and regular calls. Even if those times make you feel homesick or are a little upsetting continue with the contact and find ways to remain interested in each other's lives. Maybe schedule a regular call for a proper chat so that you can settle down with a brew and stay in close contact, especially at first.
- Make invitations. Take it steady, make an effort and start by suggesting a coffee and a chat. If money is a factor you could invite them to yours for a bite of supper, pamper evening or games night. Don't take rejection personally and instead be interested in getting to know new people, in learning about them and their lives.
- Gradually familiarise yourself with what's happening locally. If you hear of something appealing or of general interest why not tentatively suggest an outing to some of your new circle? It's a good way of getting to know people.
- Accept invitations. Don't prejudge what you'll like or how you'll feel about 'everyone else'. Go along, relax and be friendly for a few hours in their company doing something different. You may choose to never again repeat the experience, but even so, you've made some new contacts.
- Ask for help. It's can be tempting to slip into a 'not wanting to be a nuisance or burden' mentality but asking for help can build bridges into new relationships. Remaining private and keeping your insecurities quietly to yourself may be misconstrued as coping, that you're unwilling to share with others or are even unfriendly. Keep your own counsel but also be prepared to connect and let others in.
Starting again can be challenging, but by relaxing, being friendly and interested it's often enough to ensure that before long you'll have established yourself with plenty of new friends to enjoy.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net