What's a time you felt lost and found yourself?
June 2, 2017 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Bonus points if it’s in your twenties!

I feel embarrassed posting this. But also felt the strong urge to post it because metafilter is full of some wise heads.

At a newly minted 25, I feel very lost. Which is probably e v e r y person my age, but it doesn’t really seem like it when I look around myself. I’ve started my first 'adult (pssh)' job that I like, but with it, I’ve moved to a new city that is 16 hours away from my parents + sister. I know 1.5 people here, but other than that am brand, spanking new. I told myself I would move for a good job opportunity, especially because I was single and had no kids. So I did it! My friends pushed that it would be good to try to make it on my own, and if it didn’t work out, I could always come back.

However, it’s been 3 months since I’ve moved, and I feel like a failure. (I think that’s me catastrophizing, but it’s where my mind ends up going.) I’ve got it in my mind that by this time, I should’ve found a group of new friends—or just a couple at least—or been on the cusp of bonding with my coworkers. I, of course, haven’t and am obsessing about my lack of community here. I see groups of friends here and make a big, pathetic sigh to myself. I compare myself to friends who seem to be gems at making friends in their new cities. (Because as people, they are absolute gems and anyone is lucky to meet them, I think.) And when I talk to them about it, they're sympathetic, but don't really relate. Either they're cool with just being friends with their SOs, or they're peachy keen at meeting new folks. So I keep it to myself.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. I did when I moved for grad school, but eventually I found people I loved and it was much easier because it was through school. I remember feeling alone in college, even when I was surrounded by people I loved. But this feels different and new.

I get homesick and miss my old friends and family. I remember that nothing is permanent and I could go back home, but I was equally miserable in my hometown, and I would feel like a bigger failure quitting my job over this. Maybe I made a BIG OL MISTAKE moving for this job. When I get in a funk, I think about moving to a city closer to home or where I know more friends or where my boyfriend will live for grad school. But then I realize that I probably will have the same problem, and that almost all of my good friends are scattered around the US. There’s no magical city where they all live together. (I tell myself, This is not an episode of Friends, or Girlfriends, depending on what you watched growing up.) The only common factor is that most of them live closer to their own parents/siblings/cousins/SO.

I have google’d every tip in the world to feel less alone, less lost, and tips on being easy on myself or loving myself. I’ve got all of those! There are things that I’m trying, such as
-reminding myself that I’m lucky to have family, a lovely long-distance boyfriend, and friends—who are not here, but they exist--and connect with them often. (And I'm a little convinced that even if they were here, I'd still feel lost. I especially don't want to rely on my SO to be my only friend.)
-I remind myself that I can make friends again because I’ve done it over and over again, and even less than a year ago.
-There’s probably, maybe nothing wrong with me, it’s just been 3 months.
-Don’t be afraid to ask friends I know if they know anyone in this city.
-Don't be afraid to go alone to new things.
-Do my best to introduce myself to others, but don’t expect anything or try to be a bother.
-Try to go to Meetups or MeFi meetups (but honestly, do not feel smart enough/into certain smart things to fit in. Same with other random hobbies, just not skilled enough.)

But what I want are more personal stories about when you felt really lost/alone/confused about your life, how long it was, how you got outta it, and how you turned out? Please say it’s ok? Have you moved from city to city? And somehow found yourself at peace each time? Or was it something internal that anchored you, rather than finding it in a new place?
posted by buttonedup to Human Relations (21 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Try to go to Meetups or MeFi meetups (but honestly, do not feel smart enough/into certain smart things to fit in. Same with other random hobbies, just not skilled enough.)

This seems like the main thing you could address productively, along with inviting various co-workers out.

You also could pick something you _want_ to be skilled at, then enroll in a class or other activity. There should be other people there!
posted by amtho at 3:22 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I find that every time I make a change, whether moving or new job (or both!) it takes me about a year to settle in. For me, the bottom is around the 6 month point. I suppose that isn't too encouraging since you've only lived there three months (sorry!), but it does get better. I moved to my current home 14 years ago, and this is the longest I've ever lived in any one place. It's only been in the past few years that I've found a tribe -- not only one but two. One is my powerlifting gym and one is my church.

When I first started going to the gym, I felt very out of place. I started in a 5 person class for women new to powerlifting -- it seemed like all the women knew each other and they were all much younger than me. After the class ended, I joined the regular team and got to know more people. It took a while, but I stuck with it because I liked the sport and I eventually started feeling like I belonged.

The same thing happened at church -- I went for several months before I started feeling a "part of" the community.

Perhaps it is just me, but I think one of the things that is key (for me) is to start doing something and stick with it even if I don't feel totally accepted or one of the gang at first. Making friends as an adult is a lot harder than when you're a kid or in college, I think. People have their own thing going on and are kind of more set in their ways and patterns as an adult. It takes more time to get to know people and find folks you "click" with. Hang in there -- it does get better!
posted by elmay at 3:40 PM on June 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

I've moved to foreign cities where I knew nobody several times since turning 20. Basically I count four cities around Europe where I've lived without making more than a couple of friends outside work.

Budapest, Amsterdam, Groningen, and Stockholm, if you're curious. I liked all of them, and I like being alone, and I generally spent my time doing things interesting to me, reading a lot, taking lots of long walks and bike rides, and stuff. Being offline for extended periods, meditating, all that stuff.

Having lots of people around you is interesting and nice, but it's not the only way to live, and immersion in solitude has been formative and valuable for me.

That said, I'm now on my fifth city, and I somehow live in a collective with 6 others, and we do "neighborhood activism" and "temporary use of empty buildings" and I'm really goddamned busy with social activities and stuff all the time. It's another kind of immersion and it too is formative and valuable.

If you want to get into groups of people, making "friends" and "hanging out" isn't the only way, and for me that whole thing just doesn't really make sense. I need to be doing something together with people, basically, with some kind of shared purpose.

And I'm pretty sure that wherever you are, there are many groups of people who share some common activities and goals, and who are totally looking for new people to get involved, maybe even desperately seeking such people and welcoming them warmly.

You don't need to have special skills to be useful. Many organizations need people who are just able to sit in a meeting and participate in some kind of discussion, or write Facebook posts, or carry stuff, cook veggie soup, mail letters, help with shopping for second hand furniture, write meeting minutes, etc etc etc.

Actually in many situations it really is good enough to just show up and be a somewhat friendly and reasonable presence. It's not outside the realm of possibility to go to a random event from Facebook and stick around and say "hey, need any help with cleaning up?" If someone asks who you are you can definitely say "I'm new in town and kind of bored, you know?"

(By the way three months is widely known as a threshold for home sickness.)
posted by mbrock at 3:42 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I felt like that all through my twenties and probably into my thirties. It just worked itself out, like a 20 year cold.
posted by jpe at 3:57 PM on June 2, 2017

At 25, most friends and relationships feel expensive and expendable. Your best bet is to feel comfortable alone, and be able to cope alone even when you're surrounded by people. Why? Because you'll learn with experience who are genuine and who are gigantic time sucking leeches who won't get better with age, experience, or expertise. I suggest ten days at a meditation retreat like Vipassana. Ten days of not being online, not looking people in the eye, not talking except in your own head. It's a brilliant and complete out of body experience that might not bring you any brilliant insights, it might not be something you'll ever practice again, but it will certainly give you the knowledge of understanding where others will draw the line on their own co-dependent natures. Frankly, everyone has some degree of co-dependent behaviour. Having the forethought to accept it, reject it, or escape it will save you so much thought and energy you can put to saving the world in your own special way. 25 was one of the worst years of my life, with 30 being the worst. By 31, things got better because I finally learned there were people I could not please with either love, money, or time. If you don't have time for any of this now, my best suggestion is to move from Facebook to Whatsapp and only use the voice feature to communicate. If someone can't leave a message, they fear the repercussions of their own voice. That's a sign of dishonesty and lack of goodwill. Enforce relational collaboration!
posted by parmanparman at 4:09 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: it’s been 3 months since I’ve moved

It'll take a bit longer for it to feel more natural, so I wouldn't worry. In the grand scheme of living in a new place, three months is still really fresh. It really does take time for fortuitous stuff to start building up in a way that feels natural. You're doing what you need to do just by being there. It sucks to feel anxious about it, but it will pass with time.

I took my first Very Big Move when I was 23, and I felt alienated for probably the first half of that initial year. It didn't help that I moved at the beginning of autumn, so things got visually bleaker and more dreary in time with my wintry moods. But then, spring came, as it does. I started getting outside more--a lot more. I fell in love with the little park near my apartment, and one day a stranger asked me if I was there for some neighborhood garden event. I'd never heard of it, but it sounded neat so I ended up joining this stranger and meeting, like, a dozen of my neighbors. Just like that I went from feeling alone and out of place to meeting up with a bunch of my neighbors every weekend.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:06 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The year I turned 30 was a year of dramatic life changes. I became involved in local activism to a degree I never had before; while I've since stepped back from that a bit, it was nonetheless life-changing. I also changed jobs, to an orthogonal position in a different industry, working from home rather than from an office. I immediately loved the workplace and the people—my previous workplace was entirely toxic by the end—but the ramp-up was steep, especially after I had been laid off from the previous job. The fear that provoked in me has never fully gone away, but it did eventually lessen.

A few years later, once I had become totally comfortable with everything about the job and the change in circumstances, I got promoted, and the anxiety set in all over again. This is despite (or maybe in part because of?) the fact that the promotion is a return to a role that includes some of the things I did at my last workplace. The thing I always try to keep in mind, which I think I picked up here on the green, is that it takes at least 6 months to have even a baseline level of comfort with a new position. So you're still in that period yourself, with the added difficulty level of having moved to a different city where you didn't know anyone. Your goal should be to just keep learning new things.

I can tell you that these things do get better. Think back to where you were 3 months ago in terms of proficiency with your new role and your level of connection to people where you are. Do things seem to be improving? Don't worry too much if the answer is "not significantly"; just be mindful of where you are, observe your progress, and then keep doing what you need to do. Your list of things you're trying is a good one; I'm trying to do some of those same things myself. One thing that helped me a lot when I first started at my company was our coaching program, which gives me a time every week to check in with someone and just talk through things in a nonjudgmental space—and also a way to look back at the notes I took during those sessions and see, week over week, how I was making progress. If you keep to-do lists each day, you can sort of see the same kind of thing as it occurs. Having some way to track and benchmark your progress helps a lot. If you don't have a mentoring or coaching program where you work, seeing a therapist for a period of time—not to get a diagnosis or anything, but just to have someone to check in with every week—could be super helpful too. I used to be skeptical of this, but I've found my own sessions to be exceedingly helpful. I find lists and routines and checkpoints to be comforting, and they're worth a shot.

Also, embrace the fact that in rethinking who you are, what you want to do with your life, and where that puts you in relation to things in your past may change some of your goals and your relationships. But the fact that you have a network of people you can talk to, even if they're far away, is good. Try not to judge yourself too much for not having a ton of contacts in your immediate vicinity yet. I haven't lived in the same city as either of my two best friends for most of my adult life, and we've always kept up by chatting every day. I would say in some ways we're closer than ever. My sibling also has been long-distance with a significant other for years as they each went through new jobs, moves to new cities, etc. And they seem to be doing great.

Also, you're really not long out of college and grad school, right? You're still so new in the world. What you're feeling is quite normal. It felt a little bit weirder for me to change careers at age 30 and start rethinking all the habits I'd established since like age 22, especially since I started working with way more people in their twenties and thirties. I'm honestly still rethinking a lot of things in my life, a few years later—and that's not a bad thing at all. Another thing my current workplace really emphasizes and supports is the ongoing need to learn new things to stay sharp, and that creates a continual kind of mental churn that has been good for me. Being out of your comfort zone can be difficult, but it is really worthwhile. And yeah, I've seen a ton of friends go through similar career shifts, job changes, etc. over the years. Shifting workplaces or shifting your focus within your existing workplace has really become more normal than staying in the same job for a long time these days.

But yeah, lately I've been trying to make an effort to connect with more people and get out more and try new things, and I feel good about that. The other thing I always have to remember, and that you should too, is that things take time. Progress is any area is incremental. Taking up an old athletic hobby again recently reminded me of that. While in any given week I may not feel like I'm getting that much better, and I still miss my targets, lose balls over the fence sometimes, etc., I have definitely made significant improvements over the past 2 months. I can feel my overall fitness level improving, too. You don't have to be actually good at a hobby to enjoy it and enjoy the process of learning something new. Deliberately starting a new thing that you know you aren't good at can be kind of liberating in that regard. I would actually suggest trying to do something physical, even if you're not into sports or exercising that much—take up a solo athletic hobby, join something like a kickball league, take time to go for walks and explore your area, etc.

Also, if you like to eat out, become a regular at local places. I've become a solo regular at tons of places locally since I graduated from college, always tipping well and being courteous and supporting them through difficult times (local construction, recession, etc.), and it's super comforting to come back to those places after a while and still be remembered. Again: Building relationships is incremental. I didn't grow up in the area of my city where I live, but even just doing things to meet my basic needs that involve other people—eating out locally, exercising locally and getting to know neighbors, going out to rock shows and meetups, etc.—has paid off. I've watched my friends go through this in their own cities of choice, and it's been cool over the years to see everyone's comfort level and expertise with their respective areas grow. (That's also part of what I love about working remotely with people all over the country—our conversations about mundane day-to-day stuff are kind of like an exciting new form of micro tourism.)

Think about that whole 10,000 hours thing too—if you consider that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, which is like 5 years of regular work hours, or maybe 3 years with a side gig or two, or 2 years if you got going while you were in school, you're really only just getting started. Don't let that be discouraging to you. It really just means that the effort you're putting in now will indeed pay off, and you'll start to see progress sooner than you think. When I was 25, I got promoted at my old workplace, got engaged, and got in a horrible car accident all within the space of a month. By the time I was laid off 5 years later, I'd been married for a few years and I was a complete expert at my job again. It took a few more years for the PTSD from that car accident to totally go away, but I'm now at a point where driving is fun again. Change happens.

You made the right choice to take a chance and do something new. You will get to where you want to be. Just keep doing what you're doing. And yes, call some meetups! Even if they're awkward at first, they definitely do get better and can be a foundation for establishing real friendships. Also: Go easy on yourself. Change happens bit by bit sometimes, and it's also hard to really evaluate or measure your progress when you're out in the world. Grad school is a really goal-driven environment, and you're not far removed from that. So keep in mind that just supporting yourself independently, out on your own, is really good! Every month you're on your own, even if you do nothing besides that toward a "higher" goal, is a month you're doing enough. Don't compare yourself to anyone else.
posted by limeonaire at 5:53 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I moved to Japan when I was 25. I think maybe 3 months or so in was when my parents came to visit. I'd been living with them for a couple of years before that and I cried myself back to sleep the day they left.

I think it took me a year to make a couple of friends, but this is with several other factors like the language barrier and culture shock.

I was not happy for awhile. It was tremendously lonely to want to call my folks on Skype and realize they were asleep because of the time difference. There was no one to date in my town except 20 year olds who worked at car factories (so it seemed).

I found one "wine on Wednesdays" friend and two groups to hang out with (birdwatching group and disaster relief volunteer group), and that helped A LOT.

Anything that happens once a week. How about birdwatching? The local birdwatching group would be thrilled to have you, because you will be the only member below 60 probably. Hiking is nice. Take a class? If you're in a city, there should be so many cool classes.

Do you like animals? Do you have access to cats? I have a cat sleeping on top of me right now and wish I'd started being a pet owner sooner.

So: one person to meet for wine on Wednesdays. One event or group that happens weekly (if you don't like it, bail). One or more animals if possible. These three things should help.

3 months is early days. You will feel better by month 6 and lots better by a year.
posted by sacchan at 7:01 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Aw man, if you're in a place large enough to support MeFi meetups, I definitely recommend attending! If you haven't been, you may find the vibe is more relaxed and less intellectual than you're expecting (which is not to say that Mefites aren't smart, including you; just don't be intimidated!). At my local meetup yesterday, we talked about board games and makeup and jury duty, and sometimes discussed stuff from the site. You may find that Mefites have other interests in common with you which could lead to more socializing--I go to pub quiz and play board games with Mefites, as well as just hang out with them.
posted by ferret branca at 7:04 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

my best suggestion is to move from Facebook to Whatsapp and only use the voice feature to communicate. If someone can't leave a message, they fear the repercussions of their own voice. That's a sign of dishonesty and lack of goodwill.

...Or they just tend to spend time in noisy places where leaving a voice message could lead to further confusion?

...Or they just tend to spend time in very quiet places where speaking into a phone would be seen as rude?

...Or they're like me: autistic, anxious, and much better able to clearly, calmly, and politely articulate their thoughts via text than speech?

...Or they worry about wasting people's time, and don't wish to be burdensome, so they send a message that can be read faster than it can be listened to?

...Or they want to be able to quickly and easily reference what they said later using a search function, because (again, like me) their memory isn't spectacular?

I don't mean to derail here, but to say that people who prefer to text are dishonest and lack good will is really difficult for me to take.

To be on topic:

I have lived abroad since I was 23, often having no more than a couple contacts outside of work. The best thing you can do is dive into things you enjoy by yourself and really get into your own company as much as possible. It generally gets better by itself with time, but you can do a lot to accelerate that by treating yourself kindly and spending time whatever way pleases you, without concern to whether it's "productive" or "useful" or not.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 7:25 PM on June 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh yes, very much so. I had this happen even at the age of 35. On the plus side, I think it means you're very introspective and driven.

I lived in Denver for ten years. I moved to the city knowing no one, and I made friends, and I had great times there! What helped was getting active in the community. Volunteering was the best way for me to do this - I didn't make any friends to hang out with, but I felt better connected to my community. Also, I started saying yes to everything. Meet ups? Yes. Happy hours after work? Yes. Acquaintances asking me to join something? Yes. Always say yes.

But pay attention to your gut. Sometimes a city doesn't feel like home. So if it doesn't, make the very most you can out of your time there, but don't feel obligated to stay. Find a city that feels like home.

Life's a journey. It sounds cliche, but it's true. It's all transitory. So use the time you have now to learn as much as you can. Once I stopped worrying about the permanence of it all, I was able to enjoy life more. Maybe this isn't where you're supposed to be long term, but it's where you are now. So use it for personal growth. Learn new skills, build your resume, and then, when you're ready and you've learned all you can from this place? Move on to the next.
posted by umwhat at 8:32 PM on June 2, 2017

I apologize if this suggestion is offensive, and for what it's worth, I didn't see any red flags in what you wrote.


How much do you like your boyfriend? Do you really like him, or are you coasting along on the momentum of your shared history? Can you see yourself marrying him? Would you, if it were up to you right at this moment, insist on marrying him?

Not that those are all definitive questions about the goodness of a relationship, but I do think that having a long-distance relationship is contributing to your current predicament. You're physically located where you are, but you're emotionally located elsewhere. You will probably not root down in a new place until your heart is there--whether by his moving to be with you, or by you finding someone else, someone local, to love.

My experience: I had a bad breakup about a year after I moved to my current town, and I'd been feeling adrift and agoraphobic until the breakup pushed me out of the house and I started dating. There were more bad dates than I could tell you, but each one made me a better conversationalist, more flexible, and a little more knowledgeable about where the best coffee/bagel/beer/pizza was in town. Dating both men and women, I gained a lot of friends and acquaintances, and a roommate, and eventually a long-term partner (who is now my husband). Dating opened up my world in a huge huge way, and I don't know what my life would look like now if not for the butterfly effect of having met people and then meeting their people and then joining their book club and finding out that their friend is my coworker is their neighbor. That kind of thing that makes a place feel comfortable and familiar, having a social and emotional landscape there.
posted by witchen at 10:01 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @Witchen, I see what you're saying, and I've thought about how dating would be a way to meet people but I loveeee my current boyfriend, and we are contemplating marriage (later) and him moving in with me later in the year until he goes to grad school. Wouldn't trade him in for dates :) I appreciate the advice! But I am using some dating apps for platonic female friend dates (like Bumble BFF.)

Dating as a way of meeting others isn't an option here, just as an FYI. It's been tough, but is nice to have a support that's far away. It also pushes me to make connections on my own so I don't rely heavily on him/have people we can hang out with when he visits.
posted by buttonedup at 2:11 AM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

What's your living situation? When I was 25 I lived with a bunch of random roommates in a group apartment that was slightly transient with people coming and going. Some people became friends, others acquaintances. Maybe hunt around on craigslist to see if you can find a big group house with nice people who like to chat while making dinner and throw the occasional party?
posted by windbox at 2:25 AM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I moved to Chicago when I was 23, and I spent at least my first three months there playing computer games by myself.

Here's what changed things for me:
-I started going places by myself. It sounds counterintuitive as far as being social goes, but it was a way to get out of my apartment and be exposed to more things and more people. What were the odds of having a social life if I grabbed a cocktail at a bar by myself vs. going straight home to be alone?
-I had roommates and I spent time with them. I was kind of weird and shy at first, but they'd invite friends over and eventually I came out of my shell (which is to say, I came out of my room) and made friends. I eventually even dated one of their friends, after having a crush on her for a year!
-I started volunteering at a place I was interested in. That is, it wasn't volunteering just for the sake of getting out, or for the sake of being a Good Samaritan, but because it was something I liked. That put me in touch with people who were also interested in that thing I liked, and we became friends. I'm still friends with one of the people I met there, many years later.
-I've also made friends through work. It depends on your work environment and your coworkers, but eventually I was part of the crowd, even if I was the weird one.

I won't give too much general advice, because either this will click with you or it won't. But this stuff all took longer than it sounds. It just takes time. That's how my mid-20s went, anyway, and they turned out just fine. Calling your move a failure after three months would be very premature.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:24 AM on June 3, 2017

Three months sucks. It may be the perfect time to either visit home or host someone from home (if you haven't for awhile), as a way to remind yourself that you do have a network somewhere. You're not totally alone.

I've moved three times in the last eight years, and every time, it's taken me about a year to get comfortable and find people. Even longer to make what I consider 'real friends.' I did that either through making friends with work colleagues or continuing to show up, week after week, at a hobby group until I found people that I clicked with. And as other people said, consistency beats skill in joining groups.

In my latest move, I didn't really find my people until I switched neighborhoods. It was amazing what a few miles could do. If you're not where the other 25 years olds are, you may be more isolated, and it may be time to think about moving into a nice, social group house in a popular neighborhood. Then you can get your own place again when your boyfriend moves in.

Stay strong, keep doing things, and give it time.
posted by oryelle at 8:36 AM on June 3, 2017

Best answer: I started a new job at 24, and about 3 months in I was in the depths of despair about it. I was clearly not getting the hang of things yet, I wasn't allocating my time well, and my manager was giving me projects to look into that it turned out other people had already done.

So that's the intro.

Then I took a course at work that talked about the process of developing into a role, or a skill, or a position in life. And I think this might be what you need to know, just like it was what I needed to know. The process for trying any new thing looks like this:
1. Enthusiasm. Your ability is low but your enthusiasm is high. You are game to try this new thing! (You, before)
2. Disappointment. This thing? It's actually hard! There are challenges and setbacks and you have to work harder than you expected. Your ability is still low but now you KNOW it is, and that's killed your enthusiasm. (You, now)
3. Skill-building. After a while you actually start to succeed a bit. You gain some of those skills (friends, meeting people). Your ability increases.
4. Mastery. Now your ability is high and you KNOW it is. (You have several new friends and feel good about the place where you live.)

What was amazing for me was that this is a standard model, covered in training courses and so on. That second stage, disappointment and feeling like a failure and like you can't do this thing you used to think would be easy? That is super normal. Mandatory, even! So don't trust that feeling. As long as you are still learning and working at it, then you are on the way to step 3.
posted by Lady Li at 9:09 AM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

It sounds to me like you have a good attitude about it. That is a huge help, believe me.

I also agree with umwhat on something, however. Is it the right city for you? Hindsight being 20 20 and all that, I would pick a different city for my own overseas experience, for various reasons. Three months may not be enough time to know this, however.

I moved abroad when I was 21 and lived in Beautiful City for a year and a half. It was a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, I Fell. In. Love. With the beauty of the place. It was absolutely spectacular. I never wanted to leave such beauty. On the other hand... my family background includes exactly 0 members of the nationality of the country I was in, and that country relies heavily, if not soley, on family connections or at least having a heritage in that place to build a social life/network/future career. On top of that, I am socially awkward, in those days at my finest as a gawky, ill-dressed introvert (I emphasize ill-dressed because this was a place where status depended heavily upon being dressed up all the time, preferably in designer brands) and I just could never seem to find footing in any kind of social group. I was very lonely for a long time. I completed what I set out to do, so I am proud of myself for doing that, but in the time since I have often wondered if I should have followed my instinct then to cut my losses and return home. I say this because the entire experience (there is other stuff that happened that I will not get into here) rattled my self-esteem to such an extent that I felt unable to pursue a career in the field I had gotten my degree in. Making the decision to stay when I felt strongly it would be better to leave radically altered my life.

That is why I 1.) admire your attitude 2.) ask you to think carefully if the culture in your city is a good fit for your needs and personality and 3.) What overall do you hope to gain from this city and job, and 4.) will your time in here&now lead you to a place that, ten years from now, you will be happy to be in?

Good luck.
posted by Crystal Fox at 9:43 AM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty nomadic, so go through this quite often. I agree that 6 months to a year is the general time it takes to get going in a new place.

My most recent relocation was 8 months ago. I'm just becoming part of the community now. This time I didn't get depressed because of the early months because I knew it would change on schedule. And it did.

What got me through was a fun combo of FB and long distance phone wine dates with friends.

Hand in there!
posted by Vaike at 1:00 PM on June 3, 2017

I'm mid-thirties and have done the "big move" a few times. I always tell my friends when they move, give it a year. That's the hump you have to get over - the first year, after which things don't magically get amazing but start getting easier. The way to get to the end of that first year without going crazy? Volunteer; go to Meetup events; hang out in places like coffee shops and just read a book; look for interesting free events (literary readings, comedy, music, art galleries, whatever); choose different neighborhoods to explore; rent or buy a bike and toodle around; go to the farmers' market or the flea market and people watch. Getting out of the house is key, though sitting at home alone and doing nothing is also acceptable if you're down, depressed or tired. Generally speaking though it takes a year to meet people, weed out the weirdoes, find events and activities you like, etc, know your way around well, figure out the restaurants you like, and find a little cozy corner to tuck yourself into.
posted by SassHat at 8:49 PM on June 3, 2017

One more data point to say that it took me about a year to feel more rooted the last time I took the geographical cure. I am very settled in my city now (9 years later!!) and I think for me, the biggest shift was when I started to make friends at work, since I got a job in my career field and we all had that in common, and things progressed from there. I would say that 75% of my very dear lovely friends are work friends. It just took awhile for things to gel together. I also met my very first New City friend because I made a zine and took it to a zine show and traded it around.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:46 AM on June 12, 2017

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