Well, I get it now. I was warned about the transient nature of the island and how that can wear on you over time. Living on an island can be harder than people think, so it’s no surprise that many people are only here for a short time before they move on.
People said don’t invest too much of your time and energy in new people, because, more than likely within six months they’ll be gone. OK, maybe no one actually said that out loud, but I felt like that must’ve been what people were thinking because it’s the vibe I felt.
When I moved to St John, though it is labeled “Love City”, I sensed a little clickiness amongst some of the tenured island residents. I could tell that not everyone was in a hurry to accept me and welcome me into the group until I proved myself.
What was it exactly that I needed to prove, by the way? That I’m cool enough, tough enough, my liver is strong enough to survive?
It seemed like it was easier to make friends with the other newbies. People who are still trying to find their way on the island are typically also looking for buddies. And when you’re in a new place- or an old place for that matter- there is safety (and joy) in numbers, so you need to find some friends.
After well over a year and a half, I’m still trying to broaden my friend network. I try not to be clicky or exclude any potential friends that I may be lucky enough to meet. I have some amazing friends, but guess what, many of them are moving off the island. Some of them attend Twerk and Tone classes regularly, and I will miss their positive energy when they’re gone.
“Living on an island is not for everyone.” People used to say that to me during the rough patches I would hit. It would annoy the absolute crap out of me. But, it’s true. It really isn’t for everyone. Neither is living in Manhattan or San Fransisco or Mobile, Alabama.
And you know what I think is silly? Not taking full advantage of the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends when they cross paths with you. Maybe they’ll be your friends for a couple of months, maybe forever. You don’t have to live in the same five-mile radius of someone to call them your friend.
I’m trying to tell myself- and I believe it may even be true- that the transient nature of the island actually may be one of the coolest things about life on St John. It keeps me on my toes. It forces me to keep an open mind. It forces me to be more social, always looking to connect. It challenges me to open up more quickly when I meet someone new and not hold back. Time is of the essence when people come and go more quickly. And you know what, that’s not a bad lesson to learn about life in general, right? Tomorrow never comes and all….
If you move to the island I call home, I hope you’ll find that I greet you with a smile and a welcoming attitude. I hope you’ll find that others are encouraging as well. I hope you feel like people are rooting for you… For you to love island life and stick around or for you to move on and find your way elsewhere. And I pray no one ever smugly says to you when you’re having a moment of uncertainty, “It’s not for everyone.”
And for my friends who are moving on, I wish you the best of luck, and I know distance is no match for true friends!
Ashley Cates, USVI Blogger