I was raised in Florida, so moving to the Midwest this year to join the Grotto team as social media manager has made me feel like a fish out of water in a lot of ways. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about home — and the holiday season only intensifies the desire to feel at home, to have a place to belong, to be part of a community.

My wife and I have had a whirlwind of a year — I started this new role in February, we got married in April, and then moved here to Indiana in May. Oh, and we also found out we were pregnant!

Needless to say, we’re still trying to settle into our new life together. Honestly, it’s still strange to realize that we’re not in Florida any more — though I’ve heard winters here will remind us.

But the snow and ice aren’t nearly as difficult to navigate as establishing friendships in a new town. We’ve gone to a few events, joined some small groups, but we really haven’t found our community quite yet. And we’re several states away from family. Making Indiana home has honestly been a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.

I’m no stranger to moving to a new location without friends or family. I was the first of my friends and family to move away for college, and my first job after graduation didn’t take me home — in both cases, I was hours away from the people I loved. But I met some of my closest friends in those transitions — people who became family quickly. 

So when we moved to Indiana, I guess I had an unrealistic expectation for a great community of friends to fall right into my lap. That hasn’t been the case, and some days that loneliness gets to my wife and me. We are still trying to find our community and make this place our home. 

One thing that gets us by is the anticipation of our daughter, whom we’ll be welcoming into the world next month. Though there are days we still feel lonely or homesick, it’s exciting to know that to her, Indiana will always be a place where she was born and grew up — and that’s a version of home, too. 

But it all takes time. Nothing is automatic. We’ve had to let go of expectations and be open to connections wherever we can find them. We’re doing what we can to embrace the change by attending to our family life and taking care of ourselves, but there’s no escaping that feeling of displacement. 

We all face the challenge of finding home, which is a task that encompasses everything from knowing where to find things in the grocery store (or even finding a grocery store, itself!) to building meaningful friendships. And even if you’re in a settled phase of life, we must respond to the call to walk with those who are looking for a place to belong. 

These are some of the topics we’ll be discussing this month — we’re looking forward to having you join the conversation.

—Adrienne Garalde
Social Media Manager, Grotto Network

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