The first year I lived in New Orleans, I was safely ensconced on the campus of the Baptist seminary in Gentilly. Everyone else was also new in town and we had a little Mayberry of sorts inside those seminary gates. At the end of my first year, along came Hurricane Katrina, and I got washed right off of seminary campus and into a whole new world. Katrina is what made me a New Orleanian. While I don’t recommend enduring tragedy with your new community as a way to bond, there are other ways to help yourself find a tribe in your new home.
Be willing to reach out.
Once, in a public speaking class, I was told to always introduce myself first. If you forget a name, just ask. The other person likely forgot yours also and will be relieved that you broke the ice. Reaching out first can be scary. However, when you think that others are likely experiencing the same feelings of isolation that you are, the compassionate thing to do is to end the misery.
Unless you’re especially gregarious and like to strike up conversations everywhere you go, one of the best ways to meet people is to join some type of group. I’ve met some of my best friends and core support people in an exercise class, a church study group, school parent groups, and music groups like a choir. Some types of groups like Al-Anon, Chambers of Commerce, Toastmasters, and the like, have chapters all over the US and the world, so you might be able to find something you’ve been involved with elsewhere and make a quick connection. Start with what you like or what you need and just join something. You don’t have to commit for life, but it’s a place to begin building a framework for yourself in your new surroundings.
Move your online activity into reality.
In the days before COVID, I attended one of New Orleans Moms local meet-ups for my neighborhood. It was great to put a face with the names of people who had offered me advice or recommendations of good doctors, schools, how to do a shoebox float (a New Orleans kid’s school rite of passage.) I found the New Orleans Moms ladies to be friendly, fun, and enthusiastic about helping each other however they could. So when the world gets back to normal and we can begin meet-ups, a New Orleans Moms event is a great place to find your tribe.
There’s no better city to be “new to” than New Orleans!
The opportunities to explore are endless. So much fun can be had in getting to know this amazing city and its people. They’re full of charm, proud of their town, know how to band together in a crisis, and make a stranger feel like a friend. New Orleans was never on my list of places to live, but now I can’t imagine living elsewhere! Open your heart and join our perpetual second line. Before you know it, you’ll be dancin’ in step with your friends in a city you love.