by lauren atkinson

Recently, I started to have a little bit of a meltdown because the stress of making friends can be rough and being alone isn't something I'm really comfortable with happening. Throughout this whole moving process, I've realized I have never been in an atmosphere where I knew absolutely no one. Every place I have gone, I knew at least one person, who knew someone else that had another friend, and so on. But here, it's a little different. I'm starting with just my husband and one of our best friends.  And at first, the quiet was a little deafening. 

But there's benefits to starting over in this way: you learn things about yourself that you didn't know before. You learn your strengths. You learn more about your passions. And, if you're like me, you learn what quiet is like and aren't uncomfortable with it. 

Another great thing I've learned is how to do things on my own and not freak out. In the past, if there were things I had to deal with that I didn't know how, I would default to asking questions to everyone I knew before arriving at the instructions and how-to. Here, I've had to figure out the right and wrong way of doing things. I've had to rely on strangers. I've had to blindly use public transit or drive my car into neighborhoods I don't know. I did things that would normally scare me, but because I had no choice.  It's given me perspective and I've also seen some amazing things and places I wouldn't have if I didn't take the risk of going out alone.

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I've also changed the way I approach conversations with new people. I'm not just asking questions to be polite, I'm asking questions to genuinely learn about them. I think small-talk happens out of habit or necessity when you get into a routine. Instead, I've been asking the questions I want to know about a person. I'm becoming that person that used to perplex me: the one conversing with strangers in the grocery line, asking about what they plan on making with their vegetables and if they prefer a brand of tofu over another. 

And it's all resulted in some great things. I am learning the public transportation and would rather take it than driving. I've been encouraged to work on hobbies I've let go of. I go on walks by myself which is something I never would have done. I explore. I find my time with others more valuable and rewarding. 

I encourage you, even if you aren't starting over, spend some time getting to know yourself. Relearn old skills. Train yourself to do new things. Step outside your comfort zone. Talk to people you normally wouldn't. Ask questions.