What I find strange about Great Lakes communities is that many people were born here, lived here all their lives, and will die here. Often there doesn’t seem to be a sense of wanting to explore the outside world.
My family was all over the place as my dad’s career advanced and he ended up in nationally recognized roles. For someone who hated the first day of a school I’d been in for a few years (the new teacher always mispronounced my true first and last names), moving to a new school was torture. “Call me Dee.”
I learned coping mechanisms quickly. Lose the regional accent. I did it without even trying, just being around a few army brats for three weeks. Since I was twelve, no-one can discern where I’m from. I’m generic but throw in a y’all once in a while to show my time in the Lone Star State.
As a kid, don’t try to become head of the girls basketball team or guys, become football QB. Blend in. Be friendly to everyone, not just certain cliques. Join different after-school activities that interest you so you’re known for who you are. I was voted head of my gymnastics team in high school a few weeks after we moved into town. It wasn’t that I was a good gymnast, I was a good leader and motivated my team.
Let your parents and someone in authority know if you’re being bullied in any way. Don’t release any social media information until you have real friends. Skip the personal stuff there, too. Happy birthday is fine but topless photos will haunt you and your career forever.
For adults: As you find your way around the neighborhood and find groceries, restaurants, a place to get your car’s oil changed, and a drycleaner, be nice to these people. They’ll help you get around and give recommendations.
If you have a dog, please get to know the other dog owners on their walks. You may become friends.
Host a dinner for your new friends. Make it something participatory, like a Make Your Own Pizza party where you’ve made the dough, many toppings and have cheeses on hand. Ask someone to bring a salad or dessert.
Volunteer. Call your local Volunteer Center and ask if you can be of assistance. Join a gym, book club, knitting circle or church.
Make your home look like like a home as soon as you can. Dad always said every box had to be gone and our beds made the first evening. That’s the Teutonic upbringing. I failed this time because we had a temporary place for three months then brought all our stuff from storage and moved again. Next door, but again. I’ve business and personal papers from 20 years ago so don’t practice what I preach.
The most important thing to do while moving is save several boxes to go into the very back of the truck. Your beds, bedding and pillows. Set that up first so that when you run out of energy at the end of the night you can shower and crawl into your own safe place and be ready to face the next day. Cheers from an expert! Dee