Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Adjust to Our Move?
HAS your family moved recently? Then you probably agree that few experiences in life are as grueling—or as stressful. And after the last box is unpacked and the last piece of furniture moved into place, you may still feel depressed, sad, or anxious. It matters little whether your new home or apartment is superior or disappointingly inferior to your former dwelling. You still miss your old house, your old school, and especially your old friends.
Of course, it’s only natural to feel nostalgic about one’s old home. But the Bible counsels: “Do not say: ‘Why has it happened that the former days proved to be better than these?’ for it is not due to wisdom that you have asked about this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10) Wisdom helps you to view matters realistically. Actually, ‘the old days’ in your former residence were not really perfect—probably not by a long shot. Far from ruining your life, moving may offer you new opportunities and advantages. Even so, adjusting to a move is anything but easy. What, then, can help you in doing so?
Make Yourself at Home
There’s a lot of truth to the words of an old song that said: “Any old place I can hang my hat is home sweet home to me.” Yes, rather than fret over the places you have left behind, why not work at making your new place home? The Teenager’s Survival Guide to Moving suggests: “As soon as you move in, try to make your new room comfortable and familiar.” You might, for example, decorate your room with familiar objects and pictures. If you share a room with a sibling, try making it a joint project.
In Bible times a psalmist encouraged God’s people to acquaint themselves with their capital city, saying: “March around Zion, you people, and go about it, count its towers. . . . Inspect its dwelling towers.” (Psalm 48:12, 13) In a similar way, get to know your neighborhood. Find out where shopping areas, your new school, the local library, and other facilities are located. This will help you to feel more at home.
No doubt you had a set routine, or way of doing things, in your old home. The quicker you get back into that old routine, the sooner you will feel at home. Especially should you “go on walking orderly in [the] same routine” when it comes to spiritual matters like Christian meetings and Bible study.—Philippians 3:16.
Adjusting to a new school is a challenge in itself, more so if you have moved in the middle of a school year. In some lands the school curriculum is planned locally, and it may be quite different from the course of study you had in your old school. You may find yourself considerably behind the students in your new school; you may even have to be shifted to a lower grade.
As humiliating as this might seem at the time, don’t be discouraged; falling behind academically is a common side effect of moving. Besides, although schools in your area may have a standardized curriculum, the stress of the move and the adjustment to different people, circumstances, and customs, as well as the pressure of trying to remember dozens of new names—all these things can conspire to tire out your powers of concentration. The solution? Try giving yourself extra time for your homework, and give the TV a rest. In time your academic performance will likely improve.
Making New Friends
“Making new friends was really the key [to adjusting],” says a youth named Brian whose family moved to the southern part of the United States. “After I found a couple of friends my age that I had a lot in common with, everything else fell into place. The only thing I still really miss about my old home is playing ice hockey.” As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Brian wisely sought out friends from among the God-fearing youths attending the local Kingdom Hall. If you likewise want friends who have high moral standards and who really care about you as a person, your local Kingdom Hall is the best place to look.—Proverbs 13:20.
Of course, you’ll never make friends by moping or isolating yourself. (Compare Proverbs 18:1.) “The way I made new friends,” says Anita, “was by doing my part and introducing myself. I’ve also found that by having a positive attitude—just smiling and looking happy—people will come and meet you.” Yes, people will be drawn to you if you offer them something sweet—a friendly smile and a cheerful disposition! And be patient. Friendship takes time to build.
Sometimes you can get a head start on building friendships, though, by visiting your prospective new home before you move. Thirteen-year-old Laura says: “I was really upset when I first learned that we are going to have to move soon. But I’ve been able to spend time getting to know some of the kids where we are going and that has really helped me feel better about moving.”
Wholesome Versus Unwholesome Friendships
Do you say there is little wholesome association to be found among the young people in your new town? Then “widen out” in your friendships. (2 Corinthians 6:11-13) After all, some of the warmest friendships recorded in the Bible were between persons with considerable age differences—such as David and Jonathan, and Paul and Timothy. (1 Samuel 18:1; 1 Corinthians 4:17) So why limit your friendships to peers? There are older ones in the Christian congregation whose company you might really enjoy.
Granted, such ones may not be able to keep up with you in a game of soccer. Nor may they be up to hearing your favorite music. Still, they may have much to offer in the way of upbuilding companionship. Since the best way to have a friend is to be one, you might start things off by offering to run an errand for one of these older ones. Or why not simply ask if it would be all right for you to drop by? A satisfying friendship may develop.
On the other hand, if you simply stay alone in your room and feel sorry for yourself, you could easily become lonely and depressed. This could leave you vulnerable to the overtures of the wrong kind of friends. Teenage gangs, for example, are a serious problem in many areas. They promise lonely youths companionship and a feeling of belonging. But as in Bible times, such young people may also try to get you involved in wrongdoing, saying: “Come on . . . Let’s attack some innocent people for the fun of it!” But wise King Solomon warned: “Son, don’t go with people like that. Stay away from them. They can’t wait to do something bad.”—Proverbs 1:10-16, Today’s English Version.*
Focus on Others
One sure way to get your mind off your loneliness is to look for ways to encourage others—especially your own family members. “Moving isn’t a piece of cake for parents either,” reminds Current Health magazine, “and they can use all the support they can get.” Mom or dad may both be adjusting to new jobs. The new house or apartment may not be as convenient or pleasant as the old one. And if you have brothers and sisters, they are probably having their own bouts of loneliness and discouragement. Why not see what you can do to help out? Ask your parents if there are some extra chores you could do. If your siblings seem lonely, offer to spend some time with them. Remember “love builds up” both its recipients and those showing it.—1 Corinthians 8:1.
In the final analysis, then, whether you like or dislike your new home will depend much upon you. We are reminded of the story of the wise old man who was approached by two carloads of strangers. “We are thinking of moving here,” said the family in the first car. “What are the people like?” The old man countered: “What are the people like where you come from?” The family replied: “We come from a very friendly town. The people are generous and kind and take a real interest in strangers.” The old man smiled. “I think you’d like it here,” he said. “The people here are just like that.”
The old man asked the family in the second car the same question. They replied: “We come from a mean little town. The people there are lazy and nosy and are terrible gossipers.” The old man frowned. “I don’t think you would be happy here,” he said. “The people here are just like that.”
The point of the story? People are just about the same everywhere. And whether you enjoy or disdain their company depends a lot on your own attitudes, perceptions, and ways of dealing with others. So keep a positive attitude! Make up your mind that you will make the most of your move. No, things may never be the same. But with work and patience, you can make things better than before. As long as you are with those who really love you, any place can truly be home.
See the article “Young People Ask . . . Should I Join a Gang?” appearing in the June 8, 1991, issue of Awake!
[Picture on page 13]
Take the initiative to make new friends