Small towns are great places to live. They are even better if you happen to be a native of said town. If you are an incomer, like me, life in a small town can be rather tough sometimes.
Today in our staff meeting at work, our director shared some points made in a town meeting she attended. The first exercise for her group was to think of some things that they wished to see happen in our town. Someone mentioned a better system of public transportation, which here would probably mean a van service to shuttle elderly folks to their doctor’s appointments. Another thing that was suggested was a way to make the town more inclusive, meaning making people feel more at home here.
When I heard that my dentist was the person who had suggested this, I was amazed. My dentist grew up here, and he moved back with his wife around 15 years ago, This woman is about the closest thing we have to a socialite…she is active in multiple civic groups, school functions, and church activities. Apparently, though, she still feels like she has no real friends, which is amazing to me. But I know the feeling of just wondering, if your car were to break down in the middle of the night, who do you know that you would feel comfortable calling for help? That would be a friend.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Everyone on our library staff (except Marilyn the director) is an incomer to this little town as well, and we all nodded and said that we felt the same way. It’s the feeling you get when you go to a school concert and lots of people say hi to you, but nobody wants to sit with you. They gravitate toward their extended families and friends they have known since childhood. It’s such a natural thing, though. It leaves us incomers to just gravitate toward each other, make our friendships there, and give up on trying to totally integrate into the community.
I have lived in small towns for twenty years, so this is all nothing new to me. It’s really not even worth blogging about, but tonight I heard the point of view of a town native tonight during our women’s Bible study. She was also talking about people who move to town, but she expressed the opinion that we incomers just really don’t want to take the time to get to know people. She is blaming us for being standoffish, and we are blaming her for not wanting to get to know us. Who is right?
I guess the best answer is just do what you want to do and don’t worry about it. Join an organization if you are interested in what they do. You will be disappointed if you join something just to meet other people. Be nice to your coworkers. Hang out with other incomers, because they are the ones who will most likely have fewer family obligations and be more willing to hang out with you.
I actually like not living in the town I grew up in. I like feeling the freedom to move around and see new places and meet new people. Along the way, you will inevitably meet one or two people that you could call true friends. And you would be blessed.