Stranger in a Strange Land – Building a support network

I was doing a last-minute browse through my favorite blogs and I was struck by the fact that so many creative and talented people are going through hard times alone. I flashed back on those times when I had been in the same position and recalled how desperate and worried I was at the time. Here’s what I learned about going it alone.

Those worst times of my life occured when I made self-determined changes that put me into a different culture with no friends to call upon for support. These included: going off to college, starting my first job in a strange city, and being forced out of a company I had helped to found.

In each of these situations, I found myself facing new and difficult challenges with no one to offer a helping hand. Yet, all of the situations were fundamentally caused by the same thing, I had not developed a network of trusted friends.

To quote one of the sites I visited tonight, “It’s just hard to be somewhere without a support network to help you.” …. “It’s hard to be away from home when you have to deal with things like this.”

Having a home and a family to support you is a luxury that many don’t have. Most of us make career choices that take us far from home, where we work with people who don’t seem to welcome us and we have to learn information faster than we have ever done before.

There is simultaneous pressure from several areas and the effect is overwhelming. We have to produce and make a living, while learning new and confusing data, while being overwhelmed by bouts of intense loneliness and fear. We desperately try to go about our daily duties and appear normal, while being beset by doubts and confusions on every hand.

Some don’t make it and move home in an attempt to mend their shattered lives. Others attempt to escape the pressures with liberal doses of booze, drugs and sex.

The way out of this painful situation is to find someone you can help, and help them. Find others like yourself and do what you can to make life easier for each other. Network with others like yourself, but don’t get into a “pity party”. What you need to do is find people you can trust and see what you can do to offer each other mutual support.

There are good people in almost every work and study environment. You need to find those people who share your views and help each other out. You build mutual trust by understanding the basis on which people judge you.

1. Promising only what you intend to deliver
2. Keeping your word once given
3. Following through so as to meet expectations

It may not happen overnight, but if you do these things and try to help those around you you will accumulate a group of friends you can rely on. Your certainty will increase and your increased confidence will enable you to do more and to shake off negative emotions.

I managed to pull myself through four or five of these periods over the course of the last fifty years and the recovery has definitely gotten easier once I realized that we all survive better as part of a group.

If your old group is not available to help you, then you need to develop or find a new group. There is really no other option, except quitting and going home to your old group. If you know and understand this data, you will spend very little time bemoaning your fate. You will start making inquiries and developing friends you can trust.

If you are in this situation right now, the quicker you locate some one who shares your reality on this matter, the quicker you will be able to take control of your life again. Make friends. Your future depends on it, and you’ll have a great time doing it.

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0 Responses to Stranger in a Strange Land – Building a support network

  1. Kathleen says:

    David, what a great post about moving on through life! I really appreciate the clarity of your wisdom. You’re right–it takes a change of perspective but by reaching out to others we establish a holdfast for ourselves.

  2. oldcatman says:

    I spent 40 years working in hospitals (indirect patient care) and by the time I retired I was over whelmed by “people”–went into isolation in Reno (very easy to do there because of the nature of the city)….and back to “family” life–5 years ago by sharing property with my sister in Colorado……and currently, a whole
    new arena of people via the blog world.

  3. David says:

    I was going to include the friends we make on line, but I decided that they were like family members who live in distant places. They can give you moral and emotional support, but you need allies in your current environment too.

    Otherwise, you are constantly being ordered about or imposed upon by prople who are more organized than you are.

    The bottom line is: you survive better as a member of a group. If you can’t find a group you like, organize one you do like!

  4. Denny says:

    Nothing is more important than relationships. I like what Dale Carnegie said: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

  5. ntexas99 says:

    This information is similar to the door that is kept shut, for in opening the door we can no longer pretend that we have not seen what is on the other side. I am one of those people that is an island is a sea of faces, and I am completely aware that my quality of life is determined by this isolation, yet still I resist applying this knowledge. I don’t know if I will cross this barrier, but I do know I appreciate the words that help me illuminate the path.

    I also appreciated Denny’s perspective – by focusing on others, we attain our goal.

  6. David says:


    You have captured the essence of my entire post in eight words.

    Changing our focus from ourself to others is vital, if we are to survive in a changing world. That is the only way we can create a support system that works.
    TITLE: No-one Home: Of Support We Need
    BLOG NAME: Family Digest – the Love Blog
    DATE: 02/18/2004 01:28:37 PM
    David St Lawrence remembers how events like going off to college or starting his first job in a strange city put him out of reach of his family; out of reach of his support network. Reflecting on the good number of people who open up in their weblogs t…

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