Making Social Connections in PDX. (Isolation is tempting. Relationships are worth the work.)
I’ve had an influx of people in my practice that are either new to Portland, fresh out of college, or work from home. Either scenario can leave people wondering how to connect with other people. It’s quite obvious that we have an epidemic of loneliness in our culture in general, but to complicate things, try being the newbie or having the feeling of being ‘on your own’. Finding a place to meet that basic need of ‘love and belonging’ can be a real challenge, but I would encourage people to look at as an adventure.
When I moved to Portland almost 7 years ago, I knew no one. Relocating and starting over relationally is one of the hardest, most anxiety-provoking, panicky, socially awkward, lonely, rewarding, stretching, exhilarating experiences people endure. It’s possible. And, bonus, you’re doing it in Portland.
Below, I compiled a list of suggestions on where to go and what to do. Also, side note, as an introvert with a history of being intimidated by large groups of strangers, I understand how some of these would seem completely uncomfortable. A mindset that served me well as I was building my web of social connections was “Go even if you’re not in the mood”. When I first moved to Portland, sometimes all I wanted to do was sit in my studio apartment off Burnside and watch LOST on my laptop. Isolation is tempting. Relationships are worth the work.
1. Get Active.
One of the many draws to Portland is its array of activity groups, sports leagues, clubs, and events. Spin your legs in a cycling class at your local gym, get big muscles at CrossFit, kick stuff in soccer leagues, race, hike, the list is endless.
To be more specific, here are some links. Click away.
REI events. http://www.rei.com/learn.html
Sports Leagues: http://www.underdogportland.com/
2. Get Business-y.
For people who work from home, travel regularly, or are just out of college, joining business groups help you stay connected to others in your field, provide ongoing educational and networking opportunities, and get you out of the house. Join your local Chamber of Commerce or professional association.
Young Professionals of Portland. www.youngprofessionalsofportland.com
3. Go Deeper.
-Have a cause that you’re passionate about? My mind just exploded with lists of non-profits in Portland. There are a plethora of ways to give back to the community, and I have found that serving others is a great way to connect.
Bridgetown Ministries. http://bridgetowninc.org/
Oregon Food Bank. www.oregonfoodbank.org
Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans. http://www.oregonoath.org/
Portland Rescue Mission. http://www.portlandrescuemission.org/
-Join a spiritual/religious community. Not only will you be able to practice your faith, but you can meet people with similar values and ‘do life together’.
-Book clubs, take a class at a community college, learn something new.
Portland Community College community classes. http://www.pcc.edu/community/
Powell’s Books events. http://www.powells.com/calendar/
Public Library events. http://events.multcolib.org/
Community Centers. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/39839
4. Be Random & Uncomfortable.
Pretend you’re a tourist. Visit all the parks in Portland (my favorite is Laurelhurst). Come up with your own Top-10 Favorite Coffee Shops (I’m still trying to perfect my list).
Meet-up Groups. www.meetup.com
Public Speaking. http://www.portlandtoastmasters.org/
If you found yourself rolling your eyes when I mentioned, “relationships are worth the work”, or the thought of being more social sends anxiety through your body, maybe it’s time to address those deeper issues. There’s help and hope for people with social anxiety and relationship struggles. Enjoy your adventure.