When I was first becoming frum my Rabbi advised that finding the right community is paramount to survival as a baalei teshuva. I’ve learnt that it’s paramount to survival.
The Jewish community forms not only your social circle to a large extent, but also your support circle. What’s amazing is that they so actively want to help when you need it most. Each individual to their own capacity of course, but as a whole, it’s a work of art. At time of need the community makes sure you have someone to call when you need to talk, to feed you when you don’t want to be alone, to hug you when you need a shoulder to cry on, to live when you have nowhere to stay, and to battle alongside you when you need more armour. It’s an incredible experience.
What is also impressive is the way this is all done with such matter of factness, like it’s no big deal, despite it being a huge relief and source of joy when there is little to be found internally. The other amazing thing is that you can talk without it being spread around. I’m sure this depends on the specific community you go to, but I’ve found that people really mean well and don’t talk about your business unless it is absolutely necessary for a good outcome. And generally, those that spread the information aren’t the ones who go out of their way to help you with what you really need.
If you do one thing early on to help you along your journey, it should definitely be to find a community to belong to. Get to know people and let people get to know you. Social networks are a very powerful thing when they are so fundamentally based on giving what is needed by others. It’s more than a ‘like’. It becomes your lifeblood when you need it most and least expect it.