After seeing countless olim come and go during my nine months in Israel, I felt I had to do something. I’ve always been a planner, and making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel, for the uninitiated) is the craziest thing I have done to date and also the best thing. Out of all my friends who are recent olim I feel like I’m among the happiest and most well-adjusted, and as I speak to many of them I am beginning to see a pattern of common mistakes new olim make. None of the solutions I am about to propose are mandatory and they might vary from person to person, but these are the things that worked for me.
Problem #9: I’m an introvert and hate putting myself out there – communal housing would drive me nuts, Facebook groups are not for me, and I’m not one to go to random events with nobody I know.
I always wonder why single introverts even bother making aliyah alone, since I’ve never seen it go well unless they meet their beshert (soul-mate) early on, which seldom happens. Israel is a nation of extroverts, survival of the fittest, where the person who pushes in line gets the prize, and the person who stands around gets trampled. This might sound totally awful but it’s generally true, and that’s why most of the people I know who don’t stick it out and leave soon after moving are introverts.
Such a big part of making an aliyah work is putting yourself out there, which introverts tend to dislike immensely. Since introverts tend to prefer a small group of close intimate friends they’ve known for years, lacking a support system is a much bigger problem for an introvert than an extrovert.
Solution: Introverts, make sure you don’t come alone!
If you’re an introvert, make sure you have a built-in support system from the get-go, like a family member, a best friend, or a spouse. It doesn’t matter if they’re making aliyah with you or already there, it’s important that you have someone very close to you who can help you adjust and integrate into Israeli society, as well as the emotional familiarity introverts crave.
I’ve had so many introvert friends who lived on their own in studio apartments, never went to events, never sought out Shabbat dinners, and complain they feel isolated. As an extrovert, I want to shake them: then why did you come here alone?
The only solution I can think of to this problem is don’t come alone if you’re an introvert, and if you have family or close friends already in Israel, move to their city. Otherwise, there is a good chance you’ll end up miserable.