September has always seemed like the start of a new year! With its new beginnings, we should start afresh with our attitudes; we should open our hearts to new ideas.
Individuals today are transient; they are constantly moving for school, for their work, for their families, or just for a change. I have moved various times since leaving high school. I have had many new beginnings and endings with cities, schools, and work. I have embraced each move, though, as I love meeting new people and learning their unique stories. Each of my moves has been an exciting experience and has taught me new lessons. However, moving and changing are by no means easy tasks.
For me, the hardest part about moving was connecting with new social groups. It can be tough breaking into a new social environment that is already settled. Many people worry about fitting in with the crowd and getting others’ approval. This can be particularly challenging when the people of the new place are resistant to change and are unwelcoming in their approach to newcomers. It takes a lot of strength to attend a new setting. Building new relationships is hard work; some people give up. Would you really want to keep attending a place where you didn’t feel special?
We have all been in the “New Person” situation. For example, you may want to try a new activity. I will tell you it’s exciting, but it’s scary to show up on the first day where you don’t know anyone. Some people don’t even show up to the tryout or the first class if they have no one to go with. The anxiety for the new person is caused by trying to be included in the already established group. This is where power dynamics can really cause problems, as the established group may not care about fostering the development of the new recruits. The funny thing is, these individuals who had been there a long time were once new recruits themselves!
Now, I know in life that power dynamics exist in every relationship, but this isn’t an excuse to treat people poorly. Many people leave social environments and relationships where they aren’t treated properly and their personal growth isn’t fostered.
Put yourself in the new person’s shoes. They are new to town, to the school, or to the community; they are seeking new connections with people. How would you like people to interact with you if you were new to a place? The people are what make any community! Creating healthy communities through the development of positive relationships starts with you!
I challenge you this year to be embrace differences. If you see someone who is new or is shy, invite them into your group. Let’s get this new year off to a positive start! We can do this by shifting our attitudes and being welcoming to new ideas and new people in our lives.