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ask: How can I feel part of a new community?

By rlyons
 
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I have recently moved from Los Angeles to a small city near San Francisco, as my fiancee got into Stanford Law school and we wanted to be together while is is studying. I am working remotely for a studio in L.A. so am at home all day every day, often without a car.
Although I know how lucky I am to be able to "have my cake and eat it too" by keeping my man and my job, I find that I am lonely. I am used to city life and the area I am in now is very suburban. People barely come out onto the pavements! Also, I have left all my friends in Los Angeles and my family is all back in Ireland. I was actually doing a search to ease my loneliness when I saw that my old friend from Ireland, Susan C. is an expert on this site!

Lately I feel a little like I am on an island. My fiancee has to study all the time, when he is not at school, so I am very isolated except for the company of my dogs. I try to get out....I hike almost every day and walk into the nearby town, but it is very hard to meet people. I am not religious so joining a church is not an option. I find myself living for the weekends when Aaron and I have a little time together. I know that I need to get out of this way of feeling, as I am an artist and should use this time wisely to do my own work, but I am mourning my friends and my former more structured life in the city.
How can I escape this mode of thinking? It's almost like I have suffered a death, as I feel that my old life has gone and I know no one except for my fiancee.

Add a Comment5 Comments

Alison Beaver

Hi,
I've lived in your shoes, too...and boy, is it tough! I moved from a large city to a small university town, and it took a good 2-3 years to actually be able to say I have "friends" (not just random people/acquaintances I met).

I agree with visiting meetup, as well as take advantage of the university resources that you have at your fingertips! This is a great time to join a group or organization (that will allow you to, as a non-student), attend the free seminars and concerts..you never know who you'll meet! Actually, our first friends were people that we instantly connected with...other "transplants" from our hometown!

I learned the hard way not to depend on my then-fiance for all of my emotional and social needs. I was very lonely, and away from family also...and hindsight showed me that I was needing him to fulfill a million roles, and he just moved, too, and was feeling his own anxieties.

You are grieving, and give yourself time to mourn your old life, so that you can move on with your new life. Get rid of the guilt and know: it's okay to be sad! You won't be sad forever, as you're already taking steps to move onto your next phase. Think of this as a temporary adventure, and see how much sight-seeing, friend-making and adventures you can have/make in the next few months/years that you'll be there.

Lastly, you may have access to some of your fiance's student resources, including counseling. I found it helpful to talk with someone (for free!) at my new university about my feelings of loneliness and how difficult the relocation was on me. It was nice to be able to talk with someone else (again, and not need my fiance at every moment). It was extremely validating, and helped me go through the stages of bereavement/grieving.

Feel free to talk about your struggles more on empowher.com as well, as we're happy to talk with you about it. Take care, grieve purposefully, read a few books on your new place...and meet some new people! :-)

October 7, 2008 - 2:16pm
Marie-Claire

is hard but more than possible.

http://www.meetin.org is one great place - also -

join community theater, you could help with painting sets, the theater community is vibrant and friendly and open to new people from all walks.

Local libraries have lots of free activities going on during the week and weekdays with big social baords where you can read what's going on and where.

Ask at local coffee shops or pubs, tell them you are new in town and they might have lots of ideas. They have readings and musical nights too.

And when someone smiles and says hi - smile and say hi back! You never know!

October 6, 2008 - 1:08pm
rlyons (reply to Marie-Claire)

Thanks Marie Claire,
This is very helpful. I had no idea that these groups existed to this degree!

October 6, 2008 - 1:11pm
rlyons

Thanks Susan,
This all looks very promising. I guess that I have to just get out there and beat the shyness and I'll probably have a great time. I am lucky that my fiancee does try to spend as much time with me as he can.
It sounds like you are doing really well. You're an inspiration.
This will probably end up being the beginning of a better life for me too, though right now it seems so scary.

October 6, 2008 - 12:52pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Hi R

I've lived in so many places, I can't name them all, I feel I've been on the road for two decades. I've walked in your shoes and it's hard. I also work from home which is very freeing yet ironically can be isolating for many people. I have my writing, a husband, a bunch of kids and solid little group of mad artist and mad scientist friends - it's all I need. I like a rather isolated life so a manic social life would create panic for me. I tend to think I was a hermit, in a previous life.

What I would do is get in touch with the artist community near you - I would think Stanford has a pretty thriving group of writers, artists, musicians. Look in Craigslist under Community/Groups etc and also check out community notices in local pubs and restaurants. There is a website called Meetup.com that will send you a weekly list of hundreds of meetups in your area - everything from drum circles to Wicca meetings, artists groups to playgroups to political activism. They are a lot of fun and are around in huge numbers. And not to worry, lots of busy, 'normal' people are in these Meetup groups!

Make sure your fiance knows to spend as much time with you as possible, even though study takes up much of his time. You might meet people through his university, too, although you'd also be wise to make friends/contacts independently.

Volunteer if you can - at galleries, museums or wherever your interests lie. Great way to make friends.

My last move was my hardest - I know how you feel. Now things are better than they've ever been but it takes time. You were brave to make the move :)

Here's a couple of links for you-

http://www.meetup.com/cities/us/ca/san_francisco/

http://www.meetup.com/cities/us/ca/palo_alto/

October 6, 2008 - 12:27pm
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