Friday, May 20, 2016

I'm going to write about something that I'm really weird about. It's just one of my issues and deep insecurities from...forever. So I'm weird about it.

I have a really hard time trying to create a social life for myself. There. I said it. I've always had this problem. I don't remember a time when I didn't have this problem. I don't remember a time when I felt connected to people and peaceful about that. I don't know what that feels like, basically. I feel like I'm an alien.

I know I've written about friendships and relationships in here, and how I have belonged to groups and communities, and written about that in some positive ways. It's all true. But because my problem is so deep-rooted, because I come from a place of such social loneliness, it takes more than that for me to feel like I have adequately overcome my problem and feel at peace with my social life.

My problem becomes even more difficult to tackle now, being 33 years old and female and single. I just don't fit into a life stage that most people are in. It's harder to fit in socially. 

But here's the thing. I may not have a social life that is conventional (well, I can't, because I'm not in a conventional life stage), but that doesn't mean I still can't carve one out that makes sense for me and fulfills me. We make up our own rules in life; that's the beauty of being unique and ourselves. So it's not impossible for me to feel adequately fulfilled socially, and I challenge anyone who complains about not being able to have an adequate social life because they're in an unconventional life stage. If I can do it, so can anyone else.

So I'm going to attempt to describe to you, exactly what my social life is like right now. The good and the bad. In being so transparent about myself and one of my biggest problems in my life, the first time I've ever done this in fact, maybe I'll finally find my peace.

This seems actually kind of odd to do; I don't feel like it's normal for people to talk so in-depth about their social lives as I'm about to. Is it because it's intensely personal? Or because I haven't been around enough conversations? Or because it's not a particularly interesting topic? I don't know. Maybe it's some combination of all three.

Anyway, moving on. Here it is.

I've been going to church on Sundays for the last several months, but not every week. I go sporadically. The people at church are multi-generational, everything from kids to really old adults. There's some decent social interaction between the different generations, which I think is commendable in our society today. I haven't found anyone here in the same life stage as me. I talk to mostly older adults with kids, in their 40's, who are pretty conversational. Sometimes I have a lot to say to them; sometimes I don't. I also talk a very little, to some young adults, in their 20's, younger than me and some of them married. I probably have more in common with this group, but something in me feels like I'm a little older and don't really belong either.

This is a new community for me. I haven't been going very long, and as I mentioned, I don't go every week. I'm also going into a community that is pretty well-established; a lot of people do go every week and have been going for a long time, and I think that's kind of the expectation here. I'm definitely an oddball in many ways.

Part of me doesn't like being an oddball in so many ways. Part of me likes it a lot. I feel like I go here not because I'm expected to and because I objectively fit in; then the only reason left for me to go is based purely on the quality of the social interaction here. Socially, I'm not looking for any life-changing, deep, extremely meaningful relationships with individuals here (though if that happens, that's great too). Socially, I'm going simply to feel like I'm part of a whole group of people. And I get that here, because the group is pretty diverse age-wise (so I don't feel so weird about being the only one in my particular life stage), it's a pretty social atmosphere, and the people in it are open to talking to people who are different from themselves. And hopefully, I'm giving back to the group as well by making it a stronger community socially, just by being part of it. It's a two-way thing.

One of the reasons I deliberately choose not to go every week is because I don't want to it to take up such a huge part of my life, socially. This is not because I don't like this community; this is because I feel like my social life needs more variety in it, in order for it to feel vibrant to me. As I mentioned above, I'm not looking for this community to fulfill my deepest needs for meaningful friendships or anything even close to that; I don't think it can because I am so different from all the individuals here. So this church community serves a very important social need in my life, and it serves it well, but the way that I see it, it's pretty limited to just one aspect of it.

I also go to a young adult fellowship on Thursdays, from a different church. I've only been twice this year, but I used to go very often, several years ago. 

This is also a pretty diverse group of individuals age-wise, within the young adult age range. I'm definitely on the upper end of it, but not so much that I feel odd about my age. It also helps that, similar to my Sunday church community, this group of people is generally very open to talking to people different from themselves.

This group fulfills my social need to feel like I fit in with a group of people, but this time, closer to my own age. 

The reason I go so little is because while I do have this social need in my life that definitely needs to be filled, it isn't one that I necessarily need a lot of. Being in my thirties, maybe I'm just old now, but I don't feel this great need to always be hanging out with the same group of people my own age. Not the way I used to feel, when I was in my early twenties or high school. Maybe it's just a natural part of getting older; this social priority shifts and other life priorities become more important.

I also hang out with some of my extended family, my cousins, in the bay area. But actually, it's not very much. We span a great age range, and as a group, we get along okay, but individually, none of us are really that close to each other. But still, we are a group, they are my family, and they ground me in some way.

I am also close to my sister, though I wouldn't necessarily categorize that as a social relationship, but more of a sister/family relationship. Still, we are friends, and we are close.

I am also friends with a married couple with kids in the bay area. They're pretty social, and we vary in how much we interact with each other. I go through phases when I talk to them more, and then less. I get meals with them every few months or so, sometimes I text them a lot, and they have group get-togethers every once in awhile (maybe every few months or so) that I go to. Even though I don't talk to them or hang out with them often, I consider them close friends.

I also just befriended a new girl, which I wrote about last week. We got coffee, and I see her as the type of friend I could enjoy spending individual time with. She's married without kids. I see her as someone I could meet up with, every once in awhile, just to get a meal or go shopping together. 

I also have old friends from high school that I keep in touch with. Well, just one, really. She was my best friend in high school and college, and we catch up over the phone with updates in our lives once every three months. Her life is very different from mine though, so I feel like it's hard for us to relate to each other, but we'll always have that bond.

And that's really my social life. As you can see, it's not very much. In addition to what I have, I do wish that I could find a group of people in my exact, same life stage, that I relate well with. And I do wish that I had close friends in the same life stage as me. I think that would round everything out for me, socially. Unfortunately, I don't have that. But life isn't perfect. Things can still be good, though not perfect. Maybe that's just the lesson I need to learn here.  

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