As I’ve alluded to, my transition to Chicago has not gone as easily as I might have liked. A lot of things have been fine, but relationally, it’s been a struggle.
I wasn’t ignorant before I moved. I knew making friends would not be a walk in the park. Making friends has never been easy for me, even when I’ve been in situations conducive to new-friend-making. It takes me a very long time to get comfortable in new places, and until I’m comfortable, I’m extremely shy.
I hate my shyness. If I could pick one personality trait to shed, that would be the first one I’d get rid of. Growing up, I went to a pretty small school where meeting people required zero effort. College, however, was a whole new ball game. I had to intentionally put myself in situations where I could meet new people and hopefully make friends.
Chicago is kind of like that, just on an infinitely larger scale. I knew ahead of time that I would not make friends by sitting in my apartment hoping a social neighbor would knock on my door asking to be best friends. I would do things, go places, find ways to get involved if I had any hope of keeping myself from being desperately lonely. Time to get out of my comfort zone.
Within a few days of moving to Chicago, I knew I wanted–nay, needed–to volunteer at an animal shelter in the area. For the past 11 years, we’ve had a dog at my house, and I without question love him more than anyone else in the family. My dog can get away with just about anything when I’m around.
I mean, how do you say no to that? Bestest fwend 🙂
I can’t have pets in my apartment, and I’m really not in a place where I can take on the responsibility of a pet anyway, but seeing all sorts of people walking their dogs every day was killing me. I started researching shelters early last week and finally settled on starting with Felines and Canines, a non-profit, no-kill shelter in Edgewater.
Somewhat unfortunately for me, Felines and Canines turned out to be exclusively feline at the moment. They’re rebuilding their shelter, and are currently located in a small storefront that only has space for cats. I was really looking for a place where I could play with dogs, but I decided playing with cats that day would be better than waiting two or three months for my volunteer application to go through at another shelter, so I stuck around.
Felines and Canines is a super chill shelter with a lot of cats in need of some love. Once they finish building their permanent shelter, they’ll also have dogs (hooray!). I hung out for about an hour, attempting to learn the cats’ names and basically just petting the cats that weren’t scared to death of humans. I don’t know if I’ll go back every weekend, but I do hope to make it in at least twice a month to get my animal fix.
In addition to volunteering at Felines and Canines, I also signed up for a volleyball league in the city. I actually registered for it well before I moved, figuring it would be both a good way to meet people and a little more interesting way of cross training than always biking or ellipticaling.
The get-to-know-your-team event for my volleyball league was last night, and it was great. I didn’t know a single person on my team ahead of time, but as it turns out one person on the team did the same program in Chicago that I did the first time I lived in the city, another person on the team knows someone I go to church with here because they were in choir together in college, and a third person apparently lives in the building next door to me. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily become BFFs with anyone on my team, but at the very least it looks like I’m in for a good time once a week for the next two months.
I miss my friends and home a lot, but spending all my time wishing I were still with them isn’t going to make my enjoy Chicago anymore. I’m here now, and while I definitely want to maintain my relationships with my old friends, I also definitely could use some friends here as well. I’m not going to pretend like all my relational woes have been solved, but I feel like I’m at least making a step in the right direction.
Cats or dogs?
What kind of things do you like to do to meet other people?