I know what it's like to live in big, small and medium-size cities from Houston, Texas (4th largest city in the USA) to the "happiest place on earth" (aka Walt Disney World, yes, I lived in Disney company housing!). I've also lived in small, college towns and the suburbs outside of large metropolises.
I know what it feels like to be surrounded by millions of people, yet feel desperately alone and isolated.
It's easy to move to a new place and slide under the radar thinking:
I don't need to plug in….settle down….plant myself here. After all, I'll probably just be here a bit and then move on. What's the use in getting to know the people here?
I did that when I graduated from college and moved to Florida. I thought I'd be there for a 4-month stint, but I ended up staying 3+ years! It wasn't until after 6 months of being there that I realized I needed to start building a network around me -- a solid, core group of friends. I had not planted myself in the community and my emotional health was suffering because of it.
Although you might think you're fine flying solo, that's not how we were created. We are human beings meant to be in relationship with those around us! As the adage goes: no man is an island!
Life is so much richer when we live it with others, shoulder-to-shoulder sharing in the highs and lows. Yes, we change jobs, exchange hellos and goodbyes; we have housewarming parties and farewell dinners; we laugh and cry, BUT that is the essence of Life.
Over the past 10 years, I've lived in 6 different cities and 11 different houses/apartments. And just 6 weeks ago, I moved across the Atlantic -- my first experience as an expat living in another country (and on another continent!). Yet in 40 some days I've managed to establish myself and get plugged in the local community. It's taken time, energy and hard work, but I've started to build a great network of friends around me and I'm already reaping the benefits!
- I force myself out of my comfort zone! I don't stay home twiddling my thumbs hoping for new friends to come a'knocking. I put myself out there like going to a MeetUp lunch for expats. Walking into a restaurant not knowing who you're meeting is scary, but I did it! And I'm so glad I did. The people were friendly and the food was great too. :)
- I look for groups that have similar interests as me. Within the first 2 weeks here, I went to an English-speaking church; found a book club; swam with a masters swim team; and participated in a local fundraising event -- all of which was very rewarding and I met a truckload of amazing people!
- I put on my ADVENTURER hat! Those who know me, know this is hard for me. I like routine and consistency in my life. Moving, new people, changes, transitions….is not exactly my cup of tea AND yet, that's been the story of my life the past couple years (this year for sure!). Knowing this about myself, I make it a point to have an attitude of adventure living with an open mind, open heart and open hands.
I've been here 6 weeks and I have friends from French school, church, swimming, yoga, book clubs, expat MeetUp groups and more (read about my grocery store friend, Lucy here). My schedule is too full! I feel so blessed and grateful for these new people in my life.
I don't know how long I'll live in Luxembourg, but I am determined to bloom where I'm planted.
My challenge to you:
Are you planted?
Are you blooming?
Are you investing in your community?
Regardless of where you live or how long you've lived there, you too can BLOOM WHERE YOU'RE PLANTED.
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