As I get ready to move, one thing really scares me: the idea of not having a built-in group of friends around me. Luckily, I have some family and friends in NYC; it’s just not quite the network I have in Dallas where I’m a regular at a few shuls, and have made a great circle of friends and acquaintances.
What comforts me, however, is knowing that I have the skill-set to manage. When I got to Dallas after college, I felt like a stranger in a familiar land. I was from Dallas, but not a part of the community I was trying to break into. I grew up conservative, regularly going to USY events, but the people I largely grew to know were not those same people from my youth.
The big challenge I found in my first year in Dallas was finding people to date. I wanted to date someone younger, but being 21 in a community of young adults (who were largely much older than me) made that difficult. I did make friends, however, and found the second year to be a much easier experience. Friends would set me up with newly graduated girls they knew, and I found it easy to find dates when I was a regular at events and had people to introduce me.
If there’s one thing I’ve found since entering the real world, it’s the strength of a network. Whether it’s for getting a job (I had a friend send a recommendation for me to a recruiter hew knew and often found ways to make new friends through LinkedIn by having local friends introduce me to New York contacts), or just getting a date, a strong network can change everything.
So when I think about New York, I still worry a bit. I’m worried largely about that first Saturday night, about the first time I walk into a shul I don’t know for a class, and about where I’ll be spending Shavuot. And then I think of the people I already know, and the people I met as I networked my way to New York. I think of the first time I walked into an event in the Dallas young adult community, and I remember the first time I finally just learned to sit in a circle and listen to a rabbi’s class, letting my worries take a back seat for just a minute and then managing to make friends.
And that’s how I know it will all be fine — life is scary, but the more you put yourself out there, the more you’re bound to inherently build a network and move forward. Chances are your Besheret is not going to be sitting at the next Jewish or secular event you go to. Looking for that would be silly. Instead, consider that his/her best friend may be checking out a class that night, or their boss, or their cousin’s dogsitter. The world is a wide place, but if you just focus on the people around you, and constantly add new people into your life, life has a great way of surprising you by eventually adding the right people in.