Friday, July 8, 2011

The Truth About Nomads

Some days, I miss Dallas more than anything.

I feel it especially on those days when I feel like I'll never fit in here. Or anywhere.

I'm sure there are others who know that feeling. The feeling that no matter how hard you try, or don't, there's no place that really feels like home. Whether it be the culture or the fact that people are nice, but really don't have room for you in their lives, there is that nagging knowledge. I just don't belong.

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to live in one place all your life. I picture myself still in Dallas, graduating from high school, going to college, finding my niche. All the while, surrounded by the people who have grown up with me, knowing my good moments and bad.

What is it like to be close friends with someone your entire life?

I'll never know that feeling because really, I'm the nomad. My friends when I was five don't exist in my life. I haven't spoken to my girlfriends from high school in ages. And as my college friends move on with their lives--marriages, ministries, children--I feel like I really don't have a place in their world. And none of us live in the same state, let alone the same city.

That's the downside to being the nomad. There is an upside too, I just have to remind myself of it.

The upside is that I've been given the opportunity to experience so many different lives. You learn a lot about people, about yourself, about how to be a true friend, about what America looks like, when you live in a handful of different places. There are so many different values, ways of life, circles of trust, stories being written. To be able to see and experience that is something you don't have when you stay in one place.

The nomad life is a fight. It's a battle each and every time you go someplace new. The hardest thing is showing people why they should let you in, why they should befriend you.

Most people, if they've lived one place, have their set group of friends. They have their inner circle, their "besties," the people they spend as much time with as possible. And really, most don't have room for the nomad. They may be polite, cordial, but they don't go out of their way to include or invite. They don't need the nomad, and so it may not even be intentional, but they don't try to make room.

So from one nomad to the not, you may not need me, but I need you.

The nomad battle gets harder with each move. It gets more and more tiring to start afresh, trying to make new friends, to subtly convince people that they do want to know you. That there is something to be gained by being your friend. That you can be fiercely loyal and someone that they'll want to have around.

So this is for all the people who aren't nomads. All the people who have their set circle, their friends from age five. This is for all the people who know someone who is new, new to the state, new to the country, new to a place you frequent, new to your town.

Please reach out. It's really not hard to be a friend to someone, to invite them in and make them feel welcome. It starts with a simple greeting, an invitation to lunch, a party for all your friends. It starts with making an effort to reach beyond yourself and your comfort zone and take the hand of someone you may not think you need.

In the end, you may be surprised. You will learn new things and get to know some amazing people, and possibly gain one of the best friends you've ever had. And even if it's only for a short time that you're together, honestly, you'll carry it with you always.


jessewhitten said...

Kudos to you, Elise

jessewhitten said...

this is Bob W., my son brought this blog up, and i am on his account. from one nomad to another, i really enjoyed this blog. i have been a nomad since 1978, and all the feelings i have are the same as yours. i thought if i could come back here to fulton, then i would have all that security of old freinds, but everyone has changed. we are not that close anymore, and i don't know my old friends like i used to. Niether do they know me anymore. so, with me, it was time to show others, new friends and old, who i have become. the downside of moving back home is, i am a work in progress, and some things bad about me have been fixed, i have bettered myself in many ways, but the old friends still see the old me, no matter what i do. you said in your blog, the hardest part is showing people that they should let you in, that they should believe in you. i and i'm sure my collegues have already seen the things that make you a good friend. it's just that some people don't open up like you and i, even though they would like to be close, it takes a while for them to let the walls down. the curse of the nomad. so, from one nomad to another, welcome to clinton iowa, and welcome to my life, my friend.

musick777 said...

Elise, this speaks to my heart so very deeply. I too, am the nomad. I identify with every single point you brought up. I even wrote my own blog post about this -

Thanks for writing this, it's good to know that someone else feels the same way as I do. I agree that it gets harder every time; whenever I'm tempted to go somewhere else, it's that toughness of starting over that has kept me where I am. Gosh, this entry is like my entire life right now.

Thanks again.

camille nicole said...

You know that I am right there with you.
But you also have to remember that there are some friendships that are going to last forever, regardless of where we find ourselves. Lucky for us, we happen to have a few in the same circle, which means that there are a group of us spread out around the world who will always be close, even though we're far away.
I love, love, love you and even though we're both nomads, we've both got a friendship that isn't dictated by distance.

Miss you. :)

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