Moving Forward: 3 Tips for Building Sisterhood and Friendships in Your New City

by Jade Perry It is no secret that moving to a new place can bring many challenges. You are starting over and finding new ways of living...


by Jade Perry


It is no secret that moving to a new place can bring many challenges. You are starting over and finding new ways of living, new routines, and even new friendships. Yet, moving can also teach many valuable lessons. It exposes how courageous you really are. It shows you the importance of listening to your intuition. It pushes your creativity. It gives you a chance to see the world through fresh eyes and to get familiar with a new cultural context.

The work that I do in higher education has required me to move quite a few times up until this point. Yet what has remained consistent are the bonds that I have made with my sister-friends along the way. As I get settled into my latest move, I want to share of the ways that I’ve found success in building sisterhood in a new state.

1. Know yourself and pace yourself!

Self-awareness, in this case, means a general understanding of how introverted, ambiverted, or extroverted you are. It means understanding what you need at the beginning of your move and connecting this knowledge to discern the best ways to proceed in building sisterhood/friendship in your new home.

For example, in the first few months after my move to Chicago, I knew that I had to devote serious time into getting to know the logistics of the city and my new job. I needed time to ride through neighborhoods, find housing, and get my basic needs taken care of. This left me pretty drained in the beginning, and I spent many weekends lounging or catching up with my favorite Netflix finds.

After a while, I felt badly that I had not yet put myself out there to go to more social events. I called a sisterfriend of mine from another region to catch up and she ended up giving me a pep talk. In that moment, she reminded me, “At this stage, your energy is going to your essential needs. You have to be aware and patient with yourself if you don’t have too much leftover energy to socialize. It’s okay to rest, so shift your focus in order to build new friendships and get the rest that you need.”

I shifted my focus by looking at the depth of my new relationships, instead of the breadth of them. I got to know the people in my new, immediate circle. I got to know my colleagues and coworkers. I scheduled lunch with people outside of my office, so that I could create connections. I reconnected with a friend I knew from college, to build a stronger friendship. I looked to a colleague in theatre, whom I’d met during an internship a few years back, and focused on simply being a good friend to her. In the first few months of my move, I used the knowledge that I had about myself and the amount of energy that I had at that time to focus on building deeper friendships, instead of just collecting more friends. Building sisterhood takes time and lots of effort! So, try not to be too hard on yourself if you feel like you’re making connections slowly. It’s okay to pace yourself in the process.


2. Challenge yourself to meet new people and try new things!

There are so many ways to meet new people and build sisterhood, but most of them will require you to try something new. Here are a few outlets that have worked for me:

Meetup.com


Meetup.com is a website that features local and regional interest groups in your area! These groups might be focused on certain identities that you hold (i.e. Black women, Single professionals, LGBTQA individuals), interests that you have (i.e. literature or book clubs, cooking or baking, cultural events, art exhibits), or affiliations that you have (professional, spiritual/religious, school, etc.). Each group chooses times to meet up, socialize, and get to know each other better! Because finding sisterhood is especially important to me, I joined local meetups for Black women and for young professionals of color in the region and have attended brunch gatherings, game nights, bellydance classes, concerts, and more! Be mindful that there are sometimes associated fees with certain Meetup groups, and these fees vary. In addition, it can sometimes feel a bit like online dating for friends… and if that is not something that you are used to, then there’s definitely a learning curve. However, as you connect and try new things, you will find the benefits of meeting new people and building new friendships!

Facebook Groups

I had no idea how effective Facebook could be in building sisterhood until exploring some of the groups that are available on that platform. This year, through a mutual friend, I was invited to join Move & Shake: Academic Women Connecting in the Journey. This is a group powered by Dr. Alisha Lola Jones with Insight Initiative, Inc., which seeks to provide a “safe space for sisterly and affirming women of color… from various backgrounds, gathering to share and ask real questions about how to make it academically, socially, professionally, and within our relationships.”
At the same time, I was invited to join the Dream Catchers: Live Richer group (because of living in such an expensive city, I knew I had to get my money right). Through those two groups, I have met women within my new city who have given me sisterly advice on everything from financial planning, career success, spirituality, writing with clarity—not to mention the juicy conversations about current events, relationships, and more!
Granted, much of the connection happens in an online space, or through our weekly conference calls. However, over time, I have gotten to meet up with some of these brilliant women face-to-face to learn and to share during this important time in my life! I know that I can trust them to give sound advice in my journey. So, I would encourage you to browse through the groups that Facebook provides, because much like Meetup.com, there are innumerable benefits to help you build sisterhood.

3. Be specific about your needs and accept help when it's offered.

I am always surprised at the amount of “to-do’s” there are when moving to a new space. There are the big things: finding a new doctor, finding a mechanic (if applicable), finding housing. Then, there are things that we need for self-care. For me, that includes finding a great nail tech and a beautician to help me keep my manicures and eyebrows “on fleek.” Then, there are everyday-life matters: Which grocery store has better produce? Who has the best sales? What shortcuts should I take when the expressway is packed? Are winters really that cold?

For a long time, I tried to find the answers to these questions on my own. That’s when I realized that through pacing myself, focusing on deepening friendships, and branching out online / offline, I’d already met a group of women who share their day-to-day knowledge with me, as well. But first, I had to be specific about what I needed, and willing accept their help in the process. I knew that I needed help moving and storing new furniture, and they came through. I needed help preparing for the bitter winter, and they gave me tips and even small lifehacks to make it through. (I can specifically remember a friendly but stern talking-to about why I wasn’t wearing a long coat.) I took down recommendations for mechanics and doctors, and attended events that they highly recommended for self-care. Being specific while giving and receiving help allowed me to display and practice a level of trust in the new sister-friendships I was building in my new city!

Though this list is not exhaustive, it illustrates some of the steps that you might take if you are embarking (or even in the midst of) a cross-country move. Please feel free to use the comments to add some tips of your own! What might you add to this list? 

Photo: Shutterstock

Jade Perry is a regular contributor at ForHarriet.com, a writer, and higher education professional! She is a two-time alumnus of the Pennsylvania State University, receiving a B.A. in Integrative Arts with concentrations in Theater and Creative Writing / English. After a year of freelance writing and other creative endeavors, she went on to receive her M. Ed in College Student Affairs and works full time in that field. Her mission is to offer information, ideas, & counter-cultural narratives that will empower readers to thrive and to lovingly & creatively challenge systems toward greater levels of inclusion! Connect with her online at JadeTPerry.com, through Linkedin, or on Twitter @SAJadePerry1!

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