One of my biggest fears after graduation was establishing a new group of friends. After having such a great group of people to support me at Alfred, I honestly thought that I wouldn't be so blessed a second time. Thankfully, I was wrong, but I wouldn't say that it was easy for me though. Getting married six months out of college was tremendously helpful because I happened to marry my best friend, Andrea, and knew I would have someone to come home to. Not long after getting married though, both Andrea and I quickly came to the realization that it was difficult making all those daily connections that came so naturally during our college days. There are no shared classes, no dorms, no dining halls, no extra-curricular activities or people in close proximity. About eight months after graduating, Andrea and I clung to previous alumni and settled for some familiar but long-distance friendships.
(And when I mean "settled" for, I am by no means degrading these friendships in the slightest. In fact these were the same people who I consider closer than family. The problem is that I was anxious to be in close community and fellowship, and no matter how many times I e-mail friends, it's not the same as spending quality face-time.)
Once I finally got plugged into Good Shepherd and a few other reoccurring activities, my yearning for community was met, but it wasn't instantly satisfied by any means. I was blessed a lot by Kellie who had to go through the experience on her own a year and half before. Because she was already well connected to the church, Andrea and I greatly benefited from it by being introduced to many of the more social parishioners. Over the next 18 months, Andrea and I did make friends inside and outside of the church. And we did it a little bit at a time. Sometimes a newcomer at the church or Bible study, people from places we worked, or a friend of a friend met at trivia.
Last summer, I found myself with an opportunity to leave the area for a job, but found myself unable to take the plunge. I know friends who have done the same thing I have, and I know others who took the opportunity by the teeth. But the thought of having to do this all over again was, and still is, too scary for me to think about. I have previously blogged here about how adventurous I thought I was, but even now I still don't think I'm ready to let this place and these people go. As with many people who grew up in a divorced family, you tend to make friends your replacement family. Friends become brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and fathers. Just like some people wouldn't want to move too far away from their family, I have the same sentiments about my friends.
I'm not exactly sure about how to end this post, but I want to encourage those who might be in a transitional stage of life. God knows yours and my shortcomings. Because He knows this and He knows your need to have at least one (human) friend, He will not deprive you of that. We are people who are designed to live in community with one another. We are people who need to talk to others on a real and personal level but we also need to listen on that same level as well. So if you're struggling, keep your head up. Don't hide yourself away from others, and don't be scared to share your life with others. And if you think no one else wants to hear, then at the very least, I will be a listening ear.