I’m currently settling in on my 8th move in 9 years. I had never planned on living such a transient lifestyle, but sometimes life works out differently than we plan. So I’m finding myself now in a brand new state, far from the Southern culture that I know so well, having to start over in so many ways yet again. To be honest, it’s been hard. Like many young adults my age, I simultaneously feel the desire to chase opportunity wherever it may lead while also desperately wanting to put down roots and call a place home for a good, long while. And I go back and forth depending on the day.
As I think more and more about what makes a place “home”, I keep coming back to the idea of relationships. A city can be exciting and charming in and of itself, but if meaningful relationships never form, it never really becomes home. When my husband and children and I visited the city where we now reside, I was completely smitten by the historic, small-town vibe mixed with the progressiveness of a college town. And indeed, our city really is a great place to call home. But in the 5 months that we’ve been here I’ve realized that my surroundings are simply not enough to make me feel like I really belong here. Only relationships can do that.
I’ve been lucky to spend most of my adult life within a short driving distance of at least a few family members. And now that I am a two-day drive away from any relative, I have come to realize how much I took their presence and support for granted. I’m not saying that we base all of our life decisions on the location of our families… but I’m also not necessarily saying we shouldn’t. Moving away from our families has been a sacrifice for us; really a bigger one than we realized when we made the decision. We also left behind a tightknit community of friends that we shared faith and social involvement with. That type of belonging is not easy to replace.
But the fact is, here we are in the present. Feeling lonely, and a little blue. I can’t magically transport my loved ones to be here with us (as much as I wish I could!), but I know that deep, meaningful relationships are what’s missing from our lives here. So what’s left to do? I have to put forth a lot of effort into creating those relationships here, just like I did in our home.
As an introvert that takes quite a bit of energy, but I know it will be worth it. Forming a sense of family out of virtual strangers takes time, patience, and a lot of invitations. Involvement in our local church, participating in community activities, and following up with people I’ve met are things that I know will help build friendships in the long run, even though it will take time. But I know from experience that if I keep doing it, eventually I will find a home here.
It’s far too easy to remain in a state of loneliness and isolation, especially for someone like me whose natural bent is towards a quiet life at home. But isolating myself from other people will never fill the void in my heart for friendship and community, and I know from my past that I desperately need other people to experience true joy in my life.