Making friends as an introverted immigrant

I think most of us rarely think about how friendships develop.

Personally I am lucky enough to have, what a lot of my friends would consider, a large social circle. A circle that basically consists of friends I’ve made through different walks of life.

My oldest friends are from way back to primary and secondary school, well actually, one of them is from when I went to daycare (pre kindergarten), I have friends from my Rotary Youth Exchange year, I have a friend from high school, a couple of friends from the dorm like housing I lived in when I first moved to Copenhagen, some from my job at the insurance company, some from when I did my bachelor and master degrees, from my years playing roller derby and one or two from the bar I used to regularly frequent during my 11 years in Copenhagen. And that’s just to mention a few…

I never really thought about the whole process of meeting people, who becomes acquaintances and along the line, friends. Until I moved back to Australia.

Whilst most people will likely disagree with me, I have always considered myself an introvert – according to the Myer Briggs Model I’m an INFJ.

So when I moved back to Australia to do my masters degree I purposely chose to move to Melbourne, for several reasons. One of those was that I already had a small network there from my time as an exchange student. A network I knew I would have to work on to rekindle, but nevertheless a network that I could lean on as I got my footing and grew my circle of friends.

Moving to Sydney was a different matter.

Besides Brent, I only knew a couple of people here, of which one moved back to the Netherlands with her family shortly after I moved in with Brent.

Therefore, I was quite aware that if I was to grow a network or meet new people, to gain some sort of social life, my options was rather limited:

I could sign up for a sport/club where I could meet likeminded people who had a similar interest to me in one way or the other or I could meet them through a potential workplace.

I was lucky enough to actually make friends with the only two colleagues I really had in my first job. But when Brent and I decided to join forces business wise, I knew I had to do something extra to put myself out there, if I was to find friends to catch up with for coffees, brunches, walks, chats etc.

For a while I have been a member of the network called Girl Gone International who arrange events for, yes; international women living/traveling in large cities abroad all over the world, and I had participated in one of their monthly social drinks. But being an introvert, a room full of 50-ish young women from all over the world can be quite overwhelming.

So I decided to post a short introduction of myself in their Sydney Facebook group. Stating that I was particularly interested in meeting other women who was permanently based in Sydney, preferably not too far from where I was living.

The response I got was quite overwhelming and the first personal message I got was from Christine. She’d “stalked” me on Facebook and found my blog as well; but thankfully that didn’t deter her from getting in touch. She organized a brunch with some of the other women who had responded and we ended up being about 10 of us meeting up for a Sunday brunch.

10 women in one place was still a bit too overwhelming for me, so Christine and I ended up catching up, just the two of us, the following week. And since then, the rest is history 😁

I know it’s a cliche to say that we don’t know what we have until we lose it, but in regards to having friends you can randomly text/call when you need to get some fresh air, a hot chocolate, a chat, different perspectives, who checks in to see if everything is ok or just seeing someone else than your partner now and again, in this case it’s true.

Yes, I can still call my friends back in Denmark and in Melbourne, but unfortunately it won’t ever be the same as having the possibility of meeting face to face, even if only for an hour or two, or as today when we went to the beach for a few hours, for a swim, a chat and to read each of our own books.

Hopefully along the line I will get to know a few more people here in Sydney, people I eventually will be able to call friends.

But I already think I’ve been pretty lucky with my first one!

(Photo by Christine)

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