Making friends

'Celebrating the end of the happiest 5 months of my life with team Meribel 2009/10'

So you've just moved abroad and you've locked down the basics; found somewhere to live, started your new job and hooked yourself up with the local internet provider. Making friends and finding people to enjoy this new location with soon crops up on the 'to do' list. Even if you've moved over with a partner, having an independent social life is still a really important factor to making a new life for yourself. For transient expat destinations such as Singapore, 'making friends' isn't just a first time thing either, because people are constantly rotating through Changi airport's doors.

'We met on an outback station in 'bum f**k nowhere' Australia in 2014. Without my beautiful Rapha and our genuine friendship those tough times would have been so much harder.'

It doesn't matter if you're a new arrival or you're two and a half years in, having good friends around you who are like minded and share your values very much

make the difference between feeling settled and someone who is taking 'working away' to the extreme! You also PHYSICALLY need people in your life to help support you through the tough times, a hug down the phone just isn't the same! However, I believe some of us are often conflicted between wanting to establish new meaningful relationships and the argument that it's probably not going to be for the long term so what's the point anyway?

Investing in friendships, no matter how long term, is something I have always done and would highly recommend to everyone. Despite not always being conscious of these investments I've naturally been open to developing meaningful relationships. My first ever living overseas experience was a 5 month ski season in Meribel, France and making friends couldn't have been easier. There was a team of 30 plus, all from the UK and we lived on top of each other in VERY close living conditions, in a village you could walk through in 20 minutes. However, if I didn't throw myself into certain new friendships, opening up to them, giving them 100% of me I don't think I would have had such an amazing experience that I still consider the happiest (and probably drunkest!) 5 months of my life. Despite being a short period, these Meribel friendships flourished; I've attended their weddings, we've shared houses together and one girl is still on my top WhatsApp contacts list 10 years later.

Friendships can very much surpass the borders of the country you're living in. I'm not denying that saying goodbye will never happen. Chapters coming to an end and change is inevitable....and it still really sucks! However, for all the tears I've shed, the relationships I've gained and experiences shared have been worth all the short term pain. Plus...I now have good friends living all over the world, which makes for fantastic holiday opportunities!

With any investment however, you should still choose your new friends wisely. Not everyone will be your cup of tea and that's perfectly normal. You might be frustrated at first because you're struggling to find anyone on your level. Have faith! Have patience! You will find someone that you can resonate with. DON'T be a chameleon and change to suit your surroundings. The older I've become, the more awareness I've gained about who I am and what I like. Lindsey the teenager however...still tried to convince her parents to buy Eminem's album because "that what I like now" and "no it's not because so and so does!" My desire to fit in and be liked followed me throughout most of my twenties too, forever a people pleaser and wanting to fit in. However, this doesn't make you happy in the long term and staying aligned with your authentic self is key. Are you an early bird that likes to make the most of your day? Making friends with the party girl who gets home at 5am and doesn't wake up until mid afternoon... probably isn't going to develop into a beautiful friendship. With any relationship whether platonic or romantic, sharing the same values and priorities is really important for it to grow.

From the very first moment I laid eyes on this beaut across a pool in Sentosa I knew she was my type of lady! I still have a large Bec shaped hole in my life since she returned home to Sydney but i'm so grateful for the Singapore experience we shared together and for the adventures still to come!'

So friends, friends that you actually like AND can be yourself with are important. But how do you find them? If you're not thrown together in a ski resort it might not be so easy. I found Sydney quite tough as I wasn't a 'backpacker' and everyone staying for longer or were local Aussies seemed to have friends already and I didn't think they were very keen to make more. If you've just landed then temporarily forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is the biggest advice I can give here. Say yes to social invitations even if a pool party isn't normally your thing. Or as cliche as this advice is, join a running club or dance class or whatever it is that you like to do in your spare time. Although if you're scared of the sea like me then maybe joining the local diving club is just a little bit tooooo far out of that comfort zone! Turning up to a party or a bar event alone can be hideously daunting and staying in with your Netflix series is far more appealing. However, I'm yet to get a knock at my door and find someone outside asking me to be their best friend...although that would also be very creepy! Put yourself out there and you WILL find someone you connect with. You'll meet someone and you'll get that vibe, that feeling , the gut instinct that this is someone who you could get on with in the here and now and who knows for how long going into the future.

Just remember to always BE YOURSELF, trust your gut when the right people walk into your life and jump into the friendship with two feet when you find them!

© 2020 by Owning it overseas.