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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are You the New Girl in Town?

This time of year our town plays fruit basket turnover. We're a military town, so folks leave (boo hoo!) and new folks move in (hip hip hooray!). Now I've done my share of moving as a pastor's wife, but my four moves (plus a few local house switches) don't begin to compare to the multiple moves these families make. I really can't imagine. Can you?


While starting fresh in a new place definitely has its benefits (you can break in a new hair style, new glasses or a new name!), being the new girl in town (especially over and over and over) can also take a toll. And being "new in town" isn't the only way to be new, is it?

Any time now, we could find ourselves being the new girl at work, the fresh face in a women's Bible study, the new mom in a circle of friends, new to a church, or even new to a Bunco club or zumba group.

New is good, fresh, fun, adventurous.

But new is also a little scary, intimidating, hard, lonely.


After watching the gals who come into my Bible study, MOPS group or church as newbies each year, I've learned a few tips for navigating "new" well. I thought I'd share those with you today in hopes that as we step out of our comfort zones and venture into unknown territory -- whether it be at the gym, the church, the neighborhood,  the workplace or the community -- we'd do so with a little more confidence and success.
  • Introduce yourself. Don't assume that everyone else in the group is a longtime regular and wait for them to make the introductions. There will never be a better chance than that first day to be bold and introduce yourself to as many people as you can.
  • Volunteer. When you volunteer to serve or even lead you immediately find yourself in the middle. That's a great place to be when you're new. Depending on your new situation, you might volunteer to help in the nursery (church), oversee a field trip (child's school), help with refreshments (Bunco group), run the carpool (neighborhood), or babysit (MOPS).
  •  Go early and stay late. Sometimes when we're newbies we tend to get there late and leave early, but we need to do just the opposite if we want the opportunity to meet folks. If you visit a new church, for instance, force yourself to collect your things slowly after the service, stick around for the meet-n-greet if there is one, and be accessible to those who may be willing to engage in conversation.
  • Join up. Don't just go to church, attend the PTA meeting, take your children to the park in your new community, put in the hours at work or visit the gym. Take the next step and sign up for an event, class, or small group within that organization. Join a small group at church, put your name on a volunteer list at the PTA, sign your child up for a team, participate in the company softball league or take an abdominal class at the gym.
Have you been the new girl on the block recently? Where? What helped you make the transition? I'd really appreciate it if you'd share your experience or your tips in the comment section. 

5 comments:

  1. Great suggestions, Kay!

    I haven't moved too much as an adult, but I moved several times in elementary school and jr high. It can be traumatic for kids at those awkward ages.

    I was always happy when one of the kids (or her mom) would invite me to sit with them, go shopping or have lunch. That one-on-one time helped me not feel so self-conscious.

    Have a great week!
    ~Susan

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    1. You're right Susan. Moves can be especially hard on kids. And when it's hard on the kids, it's hard on the moms! I hop we can all be sensitive to those who are new among us.

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  2. How timely this is for my current life transition - I have so many these days! I was actually just talking about this with a coworker. I think something I'm realizing as I visit churches right now is how much in that past I haven't been what I'm expecting these people to be when it comes to being friendly and accepting me in their groups. Something I'm going to try to not forget is how it feels to be the new gal. I'm also noticing that in our churches we can sometimes - although never on purpose - accidentally exclude by default those that don't have the family thing going on. By that I mean, if you don't have kids and a husband or something that resembles the majority, it's hard to figure out where to fit in our churches. Scan the bulletin - there isn't anything that screams out "You! You that's here by yourself and doesn't have any kids, this is where you fit." Well, at least not usually for me so far. And of course, part of being the new kid is to make sure that I'm not being resistant to new opportunities just because that's not what I'm comfortable with. I'm an introvert by nature and so while it's hard to introduce myself, at this season in my life, learning to do that more readily is what God has me doing right now. Who knows, I'm sure he has plans for that skill in the future! Thanks for the post! :) It makes it not feel so lonely!

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    1. Elizabeth, I'm praying for you to find a place that feels like home, regardless of the circumstances of your life. I know God has good things in store for you!

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  3. Good advice Kay... I know at MOPS we have so many moms come and go that I feel like I never even know some of the girls names and sometimes I get to the point that I feel that it is pointless to get to know people here because they will probably up and leave soon. Thats a bad attitude, I know. I have a hard time meeting people at CHurch, which is where I long to meet people the most. People get so comfortable that it can be hard to get in and get to know them better. I have made AMAZING friends at MOPS though, so it is def. worth it to open up :o) Thanks for the post!

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