New to Town in Washington, DC
Dear Miss A,
I moved to DC a few weeks ago from the West Coast to begin a new — and great — job. I found a roommate, I found an apartment, and I found a job I really love. But now I’m stuck: how do I meet people (outside of my work in politics) and get involved in my community? I’ve researched scads of women’s groups, charities, and special happy hour events for charities. But I don’t know anyone involved in any of these things, and I’m afraid of showing up alone. What will I say? Will I be — dare I say it — judged for appearing by myself?
Any guidance you could give would be much appreciated and, I think, help many young women in my position.
Thank you Miss A!
– Lonely Social Butterfly
Dear Lonely Social Butterfly,
Welcome to Washington! It’s a great place to live. I don’t think I’ll ever move away. Congrats on the new job, apartment and finding a roommate you like! Starting out in a new city is a lot like Freshman year at college. In college, we tend to rely on a roommate, friends from class, and friends from high school when we first arrive, and in a new city this shifts to roommate, friends from work, friends from college or our hometown.
I think it’s great that you’ve researched women’s groups, charities, and special happy hour events. I think some events are more easily attended alone than others. If a women’s group is having an orientation meeting, or if a charity needs volunteers then that is something you can certainly do by yourself. I would suggest you mention any events you are interested in to your roommate and friends from work, and see if anyone is interested in joining you.
You should also see if your university has an alumni club in Washington, and get involved with them. It’s not as difficult to go to football and basketball game watching parties when you know you share similar experiences with so many of the attendees, and that type of group will be very welcoming and friendly. Candidly, not all groups are friendly and inclusive, and yes, people will judge you based on what you say and do, but that’s life. You have to find groups that aren’t so judgemental, and then once you have your core friends you won’t care that much if someone acts snooty to you.
I got involved with the Wake Forest University Alumni Club after my divorce, and ended up becoming President of the club. Community involvement actually ends up being a great way to network for business, and for your resume. Here is a link to an article I wrote a while back on how I met people in Washington after my divorce. Hopefully, it will be helpful to you. If you’re interested, I would love for you register to join my nonprofit – Courage for Kids – on Saturday, May 15th as we take part in Hands on DC’s annual Work-a-thon, where we go into DC Public Schools and paint, garden, and brighten the school day for kids.
I hope this helps! Being in a new city can be scary and you may not feel like yourself without a strong core group of old friends, but I promise it will get better! Much better actually! Keep yourself busy, enjoying your interests and you’ll make lots of friends!
– Miss A
P.S. If you’re single, I would suggest you wait to start dating someone seriously. Get your bearings here and figure out the lay of the land before committing your time to one person. Now is your time to get out there and discover your interests and who you are. Also, there are some men in Washington who are notorious for preying on the new girls in town. If you date someone here before you have your core group of friends, and your bearings, you will become dependent on him, and he will have the upper hand. Sit back and watch how some of the guys you meet operate for a while, and get some scoop on guys from the girlfriends you meet. You don’t want your experience in DC to equal your experience with one man. Take some time for yourself and meet a lot of people!