How to Navigate Being the New Girl

I tiptoed in ten minutes late. Not because of traffic or parking, but with the reassuring knowledge that if I arrived after the program started I’d avoid the awkward mingling that happens when you barely know anyone in the room.

My friend wiggled her fingers in my direction, then pointed to an empty chair at her table. The one that was sandwiched between her friends that I didn’t know.

To my dismay, I’d arrived just in time for table chat. The circle of women fell into easy conversation, picking up on stories that seemingly started years before. Babies were all grown up, forever prayers were answered, and laughter was shared over seasons gone by.

Everyone was perfectly nice, but to me, the air felt thick and tense. 

If you're navigating the new and unfamiliar, this experience and encouragement can make the journey a little easier. | Christian blog | Biblical Encouragement | Hope | Healing | Friendship | Kindness | Quotes |

I don’t like being the new girl. It makes me sweaty and anxious, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I know God doesn’t want me to do life alone, I’d just stay home. Alone.

Now, if you’re that woman who walks into a room and strikes up conversation with perfect strangers, you should come find us sweaty, anxious girls because we need you. Go on, throw us a bone and do all the talking.

I’ve had to navigate the new girl path because it was the one set before me. When we transitioned to a new church two years ago, we left a lot of friendships behind. I wish I had all the answers as to why that happened, but I don’t.

Life can be messy, but God IS greater.

{Tweet that}

While God was gracious in allowing me time and space to heal among the safety of family and trusted friends, I longed for that wider circle of community. It was no coincidence then, that God began to nudge me out of my comfort zone by providing invitations and opportunities to meet new people.

I walked into the room that morning, admittedly with reluctance, because I was obeying God.

There have been deep cleansing breaths and big prayers for courage. There has also been hiding in bathroom stalls, avoiding eye contact, and seating myself in far corners. But more than those, there has been learning and growth along the way.

If you find yourself embarking on the new and unfamiliar, maybe this encouragement will make your journey just a little less sweaty.

— How to Navigate Being the New Girl —

Be intentional with your thoughts.

Having faith that God can get us through the difficult and complicated takes purpose and intention. If that wasn’t enough work, we have an enemy that would love to convince us we aren’t able, worthy, or enough. Instead, fix your thoughts on the fact that God goes before you in grace, truth and love. He is for you and because of Him, you can be brave. 

Give others the benefit of the doubt.

When we walk into a situation that is new and uncomfortable, we can try to find comfort in our own assumptions and preconceived notions. I could have made excuses or jumped to the conclusion that the gals at the table would rather not speak to me or invite me in, but that wouldn’t be fair to them or me. As much as is possible, give others the benefit of the doubt and assume the best. 

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others
as better than yourselves.
Don’t look out only for your own interests,
but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4 NLT

Know your value, but don’t defend it.

When we’re the new girl, we can feel compelled to convince others that we belong—because of what we do, who we know, or even worse, by undervaluing ourselves and inviting pity. If you’re in a safe and welcoming environment, give yourself grace to adjust to the newness, give others the grace to receive you, and don’t feel like you have to put on a show to fit in. Be you—that’s the foundation of the authentic relationships you’re hoping to build. 

Demonstrate kindness.

If you’re the new girl because the old girls did you wrong [p.s. I’m sorry], this probably goes without saying, but be kind. This may involve some stretching—it did for me—but make the first move. Say hello. Notice the color of her nail polish. Comment on the flowers and share your favorite. Tell her you’re new and ask if you can sit beside her. Kindness and open arms are fabulous, but we won’t encounter them if we run the opposite direction.

{Tweet that}

Pursue God.

We’ve come full circle. It all begins and ends with God. He’ll give us strength, but He’ll always be our soft place to land when things don’t go well or we just can’t. Unbecoming the new girl takes a little time and effort, but you are always and forever His girl. Nothing will ever change that. Don’t forget it, and always return to the God who adores you.

Being the new girl isn’t easy. I know. Really I do. The truth of the matter is, while many may try, no one can make us feel invited and welcome, unless we are willing to let them in. I hope, like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you do. If you are, turn around and return the kindness to the new girl behind you. 

By His endless grace,

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You can find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Jennifer Dukes LeeHolley GerthKristin Hill TaylorLyli DunbarCrystal StormsSalt & Light and Grace & Truth.

39 thoughts on “How to Navigate Being the New Girl

  1. Tiffany- I’m hiding in the bathroom stall right next to you! Thank you for these tips and the encouragement!
    We moved from our childhood home 4 years ago and everyone here grew up together.
    Visiting from #TellHisStory

    1. Haha…amazing how many of us find comfort in those stalls. Prayinv you’ll be encouraged to come out of hiding, or at least make a new friend in there! So glad you stopped by!

  2. So much beautiful wisdom here, Tiffany. These two bits really jumped out this morning when I finally had a chance to read this post: “As much as is possible, give others the benefit of the doubt and assume the best,” and “Be you—that’s the foundation of the authentic relationships you’re hoping to build.” It took me years to stop trying so hard in new situations and just start being me. What a difference that made! I can see by reading the comments that you’ve really struck a chord with plenty of other women who have also been the new girl. Beyond that, think of how much better our minds and hearts would be if we just let go of all our unrealistic expectations (for ourselves and others) and simply did these two things all the time? Hugs, sweet friend!

    1. I agree, Lois. When you’ve been wounded it can be particularly hard to lay down those defenses. But its a much healthier foundation for blossoming relationships. Thanks for visiting, sweet friend. xo

  3. Such practical, worthwhile advice here, friend! Giving others the benefit of the doubt seems so simple, but, gosh, sometimes yuckiness can well up in my soul. Thanks for loving us well with your words. xo

    1. Mine too, Kristin. I have to be very intentional about not letting my mind wander to those places. But, it’s sure better for everyone if I don’t. Thanks for visiting, friend.

  4. I felt God pushing me to step out of my comfort zone (my house!) and engage with a brand new group of women last fall. I am just like you and hate those awkward moments when you’re trying to find your place in a group of people who already know each other. But I went anyway. I can’t say that every moment was easy, but God helped me relax and be myself and not try so hard to connect. and you know what, when I did that, everything was a lot easier and I found that I really began to enjoy myself. we’ll be gearing back up with this group again in a few weeks and i find now that i’m really looking forward to it… even though I’m still ‘the new girl!’

    1. I love that, Karen. No, every moment is not easy, but you’re so right – relaxing into those moments and not trying so hard makes those connections more meaningful. Plus, they are far more enjoyable that way. Glad you are joining the group again, and maybe there will be someone even newer who can benefit from your kindness! Blessings, friend.

  5. Tiffany, it takes a whole lot of brave to go into a room where you don’t know anyone. Good for you in stepping out in obedience to God. I trust He will honor your obedience. :) I loved your tips for how to enter new situations where you don’t know anyone.

    I love what you said about knowing your value but not defending it. God is the One who goes before us. He is the One who knows which women we will connect with.

    ” give yourself grace to adjust to the newness, give others the grace to receive you, and don’t feel like you have to put on a show to fit in. Be you—that’s the foundation of the authentic relationships you’re hoping to build.”

    LOVED this, my friend. I hope God brings you new, authentic friendships!

  6. I love this post, Tiffany. We’ve all been that new girl. I appreciate that wisdom to give others the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been learning that (or trying to) this year. So often I make assumptions that are totally untrue. So many conflicts and irritations could be avoided if I’d just give others that benefit of the doubt. Also love the point about being kind. :)

    1. I know that I can cause a whirlwind in my mind with my thoughts, and often I catch other people up in that. It’s so much easier to stay out of their head and just focus on face value. There are no guarantees that we won’t be disappointed, but I’m often pleasantly surprised by the kindness I encounter. Thanks for joining the conversation, Betsy!

  7. This is so good, Tiffany. I’ve been the new girl too, and I do not like it. ha. It can make me feel so uncomfortable, and for much too long. Thanks for the tips. There will always be occasions when we are the new one–or when we are the old one and need to welcome the new one!

  8. Tiffany, I feel ya! I’m sure every woman has felt this way one time or another. Thanks for being real and sharing your heart! (By the way, I love the layout of your website!)

  9. I know exactly how it feels to be the “new girl.” My parents moved my junior year of high school. I was 16 and joining a new school with kids that had been together since kindergarten. You can imagine how I felt.. I was so mad at my parents and terrified. Funny thing is, I met my best friend there. Here we are 20 years later, still best friends, and all because I was the “new girl.” I’m so thankful for that experience today. It gave me so much insight into how to reach out to others and how to guide my kids when they’re “the new one.” I always tell them, “you never know what wonderful thing could come of being new here.”
    Thank you Tiffany for writing this, so great! (and I love, love, love the part where you said “you are always and forever His girl.) Amen to that!

    1. Oh, Susan – it’s so hard walking into new territory as a kid. What a sweet story and I love that your friendship has stood the test of time. Even more, I love that you’ve taken your experience and can use it to reach out to others. Thanks for joining the conversation and sharing with me today!

  10. Hiding in the bathroom stall? Yep, I admit it. But here’s the gut-honest truth. I want people to like me. There, I said it! And sometimes that leads to those moments you describe here Tiffany, like trying to convince others I belong. You got to the deep stuff, friend. So much freedom in your words! Thank you for sharing your heart in a very real way. <3

  11. Tiffany,
    I can relate! It’s so much very hard work for me to be the new girl that I’d just rather stay home too! I have to be honest though, sometimes when I force myself to go to gatherings, it’s good and sometimes it’s just not the place for me, but how do I know unless I try? And it’s always a delight to find a kindred spirit in the room who either reaches out or who you genuinely connect with. Thanks for the call to keep moving out of our comfort zones to us introverts! xo

    1. Staying home is so tempting, isn’t it?! Us introverts have to go the extra mile to get out there and mingle. I agree – sometimes it’s not a good fit, but you’re right too – we never know what genuine friendships and connections are out there unless we try. Thanks for sharing today, Valerie. xo

  12. Thank you, Tiffany! I always feel awkward and nervous in groups of women I don’t know well, and my daughter is starting 7th grade at a private school this year, where she will be the “new girl.” I appreciate your encouragement!

    1. So glad you were encouraged, Linda. Praying for that middle school transition in a new place and for God to bring a special and kind someone to share the journey with.

  13. This has been my life the past four years! We changed churches. I left behind 15 years of friendships. Two years later, we moved almost an hour away. We still attend the same church though, just live in a different city. Being the new girl has been my crown. Thank you for encouraging me as I continue to walk this road.

    1. Oh, Sonya – what a crown! I’m sweaty and anxious just thinking about it. You are most certainly walking the path, and I’m sure you have much encouragement to offer to others as well. I pray God gives you opportunity to welcome others in, because you know how they feel, but also that you cultivate those friendships that will make you feel at home. Blessings and hugs to you.

  14. I agree, being the new girl is hard but these are helpful tips! I think giving people the benefit of the doubt and being open to let people in are really important. I’ve also found it helpful to try to put the focus on others- looking for what I can do or say to bless them rather than getting caught up in what they’re thinking of me.

    1. Such a good point, Lesley. There are people all around us with needs and problems and being the hands and feet of Jesus is not only a great way to honor Him, but a great way to settle in and meet new people. Thanks for visiting today!

  15. I love this. I was the new girl at church last year. It was an awkward time, bustling in with my loud children. Everyone noticed when I just wanted them not to. But also I was so soooo lonely and just wanted a friend. The thing about good friendships is that they do take time. People will generally like you but won’t come to know you well and love you until time has passed and circumstances have happened and your true character shines through. Loved these guidelines! Great post

    1. I agree, Jerusha – friendships come through shared experience and time together. It can be hard to navigate those early days as you find that special someone that will go the distance with you. I pray you’ve found that and continue to build those lasting bonds. I’m so glad you joined the conversation today!

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