Today is my birthday. I am 62 years old. Since the age of 12, I have lived with family, with roommates, by myself, and with my wife, and with my wife and daughter. I have had 22 different mailing addresses in those 50 years. I have lived in 14 municipalities (some of them two or three times). That’s a lot of moves and “starting over.”
I went away to boarding school at 12, and had to make friends and get used to a new environment. Then I moved to another boarding school for a term—more change, more people and situations I did not know or understand. Going to university was fine. I met lots of new people and was in a new environment, but some of my boarding school friends were at the same university and in the same residence.
Then I moved to work in Toronto—a whole new environment to become acclimatized to—making new friends again and fitting into another environment. Then those jobs (hospitality/restaurant and night club industry) took me to Scarborough and Windsor to live—then to Mississauga, Burlington, Ottawa, Fredericton, and Kitchener. In each case, I knew no one. I was new in the restaurant/club. I was new to the community. I was an outsider. It was not easy. Then I had a career change and was off to Calgary, then Ottawa again, and back to Calgary doing sponsorship and sport marketing sales. Again, it was places I neither knew nor had any connection with. In the middle of all that, I quit drinking which I have been able to maintain to this time of writing for over 27 years of continuous sobriety. Talk about change—change in lifestyle, and definitely a big change in social circles LOL!!
Then I moved to Nanaimo, BC where my wife, daughter, and I (OK, our daughter is gone—she flew the coop to go to university in Montreal and it is just my wife and me) still reside and have for over eight years. Moving here was a change as well, especially since we did not do any work on the Island or even in BC at the time—all our business was from Alberta east.
So as you can see, the last 50 years I have seen a ton of changes—a lot of “starting over.” But I would not have missed any of them. I have no regrets about any of those moves or changes. And I did learn some ways to get involved in the community to make sure that it was not all work and no play. Here are some of the ways that I managed so much change and starting over.
- I joined a service club. From 1988 through 2019, I was a member of Rotary. This got me involved in the communities of Fredericton, Kitchener, Calgary, Ottawa, and Nanaimo. I made lifelong friends, had business opportunities, was able to volunteer, and give back to the communities where I resided. It also gave me an escape from work.
- When I quit drinking, I became a member of a support group. Those local meetings opened doors for friendship and fellowship. Again, this assimilated me into not only that sober community, but also the larger community overall.
- In several of these communities, I joined a local Anglican parish where I have always become an active member through regular Sunday attendance and interaction, as well through volunteering.
- These three communities (Rotary, AA and church) each provided me with different social groups among which there was some, but very little crossover. They provided me with different networks and opportunities, but all were local allowing me to integrate into the community and lessen the shock of starting over in a new place.
- In addition, when we moved to Nanaimo, our daughter was going into grade five, so on top of Rotary, church, and the support group, our assimilation was supported by meeting and engaging with parents from school, sports teams, and other extracurricular activities. This allowed (as did Rotary) opportunities for both my wife, and later my wife, daughter and me to engage in socialization together.
- Also, when I was single living in Fredericton and Ottawa, I volunteered as a scout leader. Years later, this transitioned into being my daughter’s Beaver and Cub leader. All of these experiences offered me further integration into new social groups and circles.
- Finally, in almost all the markets where I was living after 1988, I got involved in professional organizations. When I was in the hospitality industry, I was heavily involved in the restaurant, hospitality, and tourism associations. When I got into sport marketing, fundraising, and running a sponsorship consulting firm, I joined professional organizations such as AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) and SMCC (Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada) to network and become oriented in those associated local markets.
Starting over and over again so many times was always was a positive experience. I found it (and still do) exciting and scary at the same time, but it has always paid off in spades, both personally and professionally. I hope these ideas to assimilate into new environments and “starting over” scenarios are helpful.
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