Lonely

1 03 2014

I’ll probably never post this, but I’m writing it here just in case. I suppose I could just write it in a word document, but I think I need to feel like someone’s reading it.

I’m really lonely. I moved to a new city about 2 months ago. I like my job and I’m living in a pretty neat apartment in a cool location. The problem is that I don’t know anybody. It’s weird that I now live in the state where I grew up, an hour away from my hometown, but I have fewer friends and less of a social life here than I did when I lived halfway around the world in Prague.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to meet people and make friends. It feels really pathetic to google search “how to make friends,” but that’s where I am. It’s just so different from being in school. I don’t have that day-to-day interaction. I can go days without speaking to people now. And in Prague I started out taking a class that had a huge alumni network, so not only did I have my 15 classmates, but I had a built-in social group of around 100 people. There was always stuff going on and I was always free to join or not join as I wanted. I tended to not join, but I at least had my roommates (one of whom was wonderful, one of whom was awful) to talk to and hang out with, and I had a couple other close-ish friends I could hit up if I wanted to go for a drink or hang out.

Here there’s nothing. I work in a windowless room with a scanner. By myself. There are people around who I talk to sometimes, but I’m by far the youngest. The next-youngest is the same age as my mother. The others are all retired volunteers. I don’t work for the same company as them, I just happen to be using their space, so there’s not really a built-in conversation. And since I have to have the light off when I’m scanning, I spend all day by myself in the dark, and they don’t really do much more than wave at me from the doorway occasionally. Meeting people in my building is even worse. It’s practically a retirement home. The average age of the residents is around 58. There are a couple families with young kids, but for the most part it’s retirees. If you want an idea of my building’s demographic, I’m given to understand that the junk mail most people get is stuff like takeout menus or coupon sheets. I get fliers for assisted living communities and AARP mailers. I’m told I’m the youngest person living in the building. Not exactly going to find people willing to go out for a drink or play Card Against Humanity with me here.

So between work and home, my odds of meeting anyone even within a decade or two of my age are pretty much nil. And I don’t go anywhere besides work and home. Sometimes the grocery store or a coffee shop.

I’m lonely. I’m a homebody and an introvert and I like keeping to myself. I enjoy spending evenings alone reading, watching TV, or playing video games (I got hooked on the Assassin’s Creed games). But on occasion it’s nice to have people to hang out with. If I’m alone too much, I tend to get stuck inside my own head. I need to hang out with people who aren’t me at least every once in awhile. Plus, it’s just fun to hang out and be around people sometimes. Even for a crazy homebody introvert.

The trouble is that I don’t have anybody. And I don’t really have any tools for meeting people who can become friends. All the resources I’ve read are like, “Talk to people at work, ask them out for a drink!” or “Join a club!” I will address these things.

1. I’ve already talked about the people at work. There’s Dale, who’s in his 60s and married; there’s Gloria, who’s also in her late 60s and married; there’s Diana, who’s in her 50s; and then there are the volunteers, the youngest of whom is 78. I don’t think any of them are going to want to go to happy hour with me after work. I’ve chatted with all of them a bit at work, but we probably aren’t ever going to hang out outside my dark, windowless room.

2. I’ve googled clubs, classes, and social groups ad nauseam. Maybe I’m just not looking in the right spot, but I’m having a lot of trouble finding clubs and classes to join. Most of the stuff I have found is mid-session right now, and a lot of the stuff I’ve found involves intramural sports. That’s fine, but to even sign up, you need a team. We’re right back to the problem of I DON’T KNOW ANYONE. Most of the stuff I find, too, doesn’t really interest me. I found ballroom classes that seemed cool, but you had to sign up with a partner.

I know that meetup.com is a thing, and I have an account on there. I’ve looked at social groups in my area. Most of them are either “Party girls!” or for moms or “foodies” or the like. I’m not ever interested in partying, I’m not a mom, and I’m not a foodie (or at least not one who has any cooking skills, which is what that group is about). I found a couple groups that looked interesting and joined. But the problem is still that I’m very introverted. Just walking into a meetup by myself, without knowing anybody isn’t in my nature. I’ve tried that once, and I wound up standing in a corner hoping someone would approach me. I just can’t go into a group full of people I don’t know, strike up a conversation, and get to know people. It’s just not the way I operate.

You may as well put me on the diving board of an Olympic pool and say, “Go win the gold medal.” I can swim and technically know how to do all the strokes, but no way can I just jump in and win a medal. It’s not going to happen.

I’ve looked up advice on how to meet people when you’re an introvert. Most of it says something to the effect of, “Grow up and learn to be more outgoing,” or “Get over it and learn to be an extravert.”

The trouble is that I can’t really. It’s not who I am. I don’t thrive in situations where I’m thrown into a big group and have to just talk to people. It’s just a no go. It’s pathetic, but in Prague the only way I could EVER go to a party or gathering with more than, say, 10 people is if I knew that my roommate or one of my other close friends was going to be there. That way I’d know that there was at least someone I could talk to if mingling got overwhelming. The situation in Prague was pretty extreme, since I had little to nothing in common with most of the people there and had nothing to contribute to their favorite conversation topics – sex and drugs. But still. I can’t just go to a gathering without knowing anybody and strike up conversations. No amount of “getting over it” or “growing up” or “learning to be outgoing” is going to change it. For me, “getting over it” or “being outgoing” is just GOING there and hoping that maybe someone will approach me.

I don’t want to make myself out to be totally socially awkward. I’m a bit awkward, but I’m capable of talking to people and meeting people. I just prefer it to be in smaller settings or, if we’re in a bigger group, I like to be approached first. It’s just easier.

The other piece of advice that less judgmental people tend to give is “learn to be your own best friend.”

I’ve got that down. Believe me. I love all the friends I’ve made up to this point, but there is no one I’d rather hang out with than myself. Sometimes I wish that I could literally be two people so I could be friends with myself (I guess that’s why I’m so lucky to have my Twins, because that’s pretty much like being friends with myself).

When I lived in Prague, I liked to sometimes take a day and go into the city to a cafe none of my friends knew and read and hang out, all by myself. I enjoyed taking weekend trips to different cities alone and spending the days wandering around on my own pace, with my own thoughts, doing what I wanted and not worrying about anyone else. It was refreshing. Once when I was talking to Nica, I told her it felt like hitting the reset button. Teaching and living in Prague was stressful and weird. it was nice to have times where I got to be alone and hang out with myself. It helped me rediscover my center, remember who I was and what I wanted, and feel better about life. When I went back to Prague after those trips, it was way easier to socialize with the big group and stay relaxed.

The trouble is that I’ve pretty much been hanging out solely with myself for two months now. It’s been a week since I even talked to anybody who wasn’t on the other side of a cash register. I’m starting to think too much and get upset and I really need to get away from myself. I’m having a lot of thoughts that I’d rather not have and starting to get quite upset quite often. I’d love to call up a friend and go for a drink and talk. Not about what’s upsetting me or how lonely I am or anything like that. I’d just like to talk and have a conversation besides, “Paper or plastic?” or “Do you want the receipt with you or in the bag?” But I don’t have anybody to ask to hang out.

I know two people in this city. One of them has been a friend for as long as I can remember. We grew up together but drifted apart in high school and, even though we went to the same college, we never really hung out that much. When we had lunch last month, it was the first time we’d seen each other in 3 or 4 years. She’s in med school and really busy with that, and any free time she has is devoted to her boyfriend. It’s totally understandable and I’m not mad or anything. It’s just a bummer and I’m hoping that maybe in the summer she’ll have more free time.

The other person is someone I know from college. We used to be very close, but we aren’t anymore. I think I’ve mentioned the Great Friend Breakup on this blog. She is the friend from the Great Friend Breakup, and it looks like she’d prefer to stay “broken up.” Although we’ve hung out once and texted a few times, it’s obvious that she has no interest in reconnecting or spending time together. This is slightly more upsetting and less understandable than Med School Friend, but it’s still not breaking my heart or ruining my life.

It’s clear that I need to make new friends and find my own social group. The trouble is that my ideal friend likes to stay in and watch movies, play games, or occasionally go to a bar for a quiet drink or pub quiz night. I can’t very well find these people, because they’re all at their own apartments, watching movies or playing games.

I wish there was a way to meet new people where it was just a group of 3 or 4 other people, and you knew they were going to be there and willing to talk, but you didn’t have to just throw yourself into a room full of people and hope you somehow found yourself in a conversation.

At some point, I’m going to probably give in and try to go to another meetup or gathering, and hopefully someone will start talking to me or I’ll find it in myself to go and talk, but until then, this has been me, getting away from myself in the only way I can at the moment, by whining on a blog.

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