A quiet Sunday afternoon. My youngest is sitting outside, perched upon our cement letterbox. The gentle warmth of the sun warming his little body. “What are you doing?” I called out to him. “Just waiting on a mate” he casually responded.
Oh, to view the world through the eyes of an 8-year-old. To peel back the layers and look at things in their simplest form. When you want to hang with a friend, you simply just wait for one to come by.
For me personally as an adult, I have never looked at it like this. There is always multiple scenarios playing out in my head.
Have you ever moved to a new town as an adult and tried to make friends? It is not easy and if are shy it doesn’t make things any easier – right?
We made the move to a small country town 10 year ago. To be honest it has been hard.
We made the move to be closer to my Mum who was sick. So, when we moved my main focus was to help out as much as I could. When she became sicker it was a matter of spending as much time with her as I could. Now don’t get me wrong I would never change those first few years. I have some beautiful memories of my Mum which will forever be cherished.
Once Mum passed, I soon realised that I didn’t have friends in this town. I had people who knew my name and gave me a nod and a hello as we crossed paths down the street. But I didn’t have a friend who I called up just because, or ones who dropped by. I felt like I missed the boat on finding my people.
As the years progressed, it just seemed to get harder.
Now in 2022 this is my year of change. This is year that I am working on myself. Like a billion others searching for answers, I turned to the internet for advice, and I typed into the search bar “how to find friends in a small country town”.
Tips I found on the internet
Get to know your neighbours –
I found this tip tricky.
On one side of us we have my husband’s former boss. My husband didn’t leave on bad terms, and we do the casual wave when we see each other from over the fence but it never progresses from there.
On the other side we have a family who are similar in age to ourselves. Great! Except this family are one of the IT families in town. Like I said before moving back to a small town really is like going back to high school! We have wonderful conversations over the fence in the backyard, but cross paths in town and it’s like you are invisible.
Get to know your co-workers –
I work in an industry where there is a high turnover rate. So just when you think you are making connections with likeminded people, they are gone.
I guess what I take away from this is keeping that connection going once they have left the workplace.
Attend local events –
There are always local events popping up around town. And to be honest I always avoid. I do not handle large gatherings well, and always stand in the corner trying to be as small as possible.
But I can see the benefits of this tip. Possibly start small. You don’t need to attend every local event.
Join a local board/volunteer –
I have always wondered why so many parents join up to be part of the school and childcare councils, sporting boards, the local show council and so on. Here I am barely finding time to get the basics achieved and there are some people who are working full time and on 3 different committees.
As an employee I was needed to sit in on a committee meeting. And this was an eye opener to me. It wasn’t just a time to chat about what was on the agenda but there was so much more.
Be friendly –
Not everyone is going to come up to you and chat first. There are times you will need to say hello first. You don’t know have much to lose but so much to gain. They might just say hello and keep on walking, or they might just stop for a chat.
Avoid town gossip –
Small towns are notorious for gossip. I remember once I was talking to a group of co-workers about my goals. That eventually I want to end up living near the beach. It took a week, and I had people asking how the packing was going for the move.
At the end of the day, do you really want to be known as the town gossip. Once people think of you this way it is really hard to build that trust up again.
So there were the main tips I found and my own thoughts. My take away is that rather than thinking it is too late and continue sulking there are some things I can try myself from the above list.
Onwards and upwards – here is to my year of change!
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