I come home and open my mail to find another “save the date” waiting for me. I check Facebook and learn that a friend from grad school is pregnant. I get a text that my college friend is now engaged. I learn from my mom that my cousin is having a baby. I feel, somehow, like I’ve been left behind.
I’m still trying to establish a group of close friends in this strange, surprising city. Scratch that. I’m still trying to establish one close friend in this strange, surprising city. It amazes me how many people here already have a set of close friends, whether from high school, college, graduate school, or former places of employment.
And it’s not like I haven’t had my share of awkward social situations. In fact, if anything, I feel overinvolved and overcommitted. But I’m active, and I’m happy. My love life is anything but spectacular, but I’m still riding on the waves of a ship that reads, “I just got out of a long-term relationship.”
I’ve met many people in the nine months I’ve lived in DC. More people than I can put names to faces. But in all those connections, I’ve come out with zero new friends. Well, I did become close to an intern we had at work last summer, but then she had to go back to Yale to finish her graduate degree. So here I am.
And I know it’s not just me. I met one young woman at a young professional event who was looking for a new social group. She told me her boyfriend was always out with various networks, and she wanted the same. I even went to a friendsgiving she invited me to, but then the holidays came; we lost touch, and then I learned on Facebook she got engaged. Well there goes that, I thought to myself.
But if nothing else, I have maintained connections with the few friends I have left in the Baltimore-Washington region. In addition to ending a long-term relationship a year ago, I also had the misfortune of losing two of my best friends to different cities. As heartbreaking as all of that was, I thought it would force me to join new social circles and make new friends.
Well, that I have done. But new friends? Like my love life, I’m still waiting on that one. I’ve given up on the idea that I’ll be rewarded if I’m proactive. I realize now relationships are hard. You can’t force them. And maybe I’m set in my ways? I know what I want, and I’m not willing to put up with certain types of treatment anymore.
Maybe? Or maybe I’m just a loner? I do have the type of personality that usually only has a small group of friends. But I also have the type of personality that likes to have different groups of social networks for whatever mood I happen to be in. In some ways, I do have those social networks.
But do I have the type of friend I can call up on any given night and ask to hang out? Not really. Do I necessarily need that at 28? Not really. But that level of comfort is still nice. I’ve been telling everyone since I moved here that walking into a room full of strangers has become my new social norm.
It’s possible I’m proud of myself (as an introvert that is not a typical social norm to be comfortable with). It’s possible I want people to know that I’m trying, and I’m not spending my single life under the covers binge watching Netflix. But what’s most likely is that even though I can now count on one hand how many close friends I have in proximity to me, I want to reassure myself that I have everything I socially need.
And that’s okay.