Sometimes You Have To Find And Re-Find Your People – And Guess What? It’s Hard

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I’m learning to adjust to life after.

Life after college, after babies, after a deaf ear.

Some days being deaf in one ear really, really sucks.

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I’m a quiet extrovert, ESFJ to be exact. I don’t mind being the first to talk but am never the one to win the volume wars that tend to happen in large groups.

I used to be 100% comfortable with this. I listened, laughed when appropriate, and chimed in with a witty thought or two when the noisier simmered for a bit.

Like a clever social jaguar, I always liked pouncing from my silence with a witty retort when my quiet extroverted ways would take everyone off guard.

“She doesn’t say much but when she does it’s hilarious!” That’s what I used to hear.

I was 100% confident in that identity.

My volume could never rival the back-and-forth of any man, most women, and even my kids, TBH, but I took it all in and threw that Gilmore-Girl like banter like confetti.

With one newfound deaf ear, though, being quick with a retort doesn’t come easily.

I continually reposition to have my good ear face the crowd.

I zone in on talking to one person because hearing across the room with any background noise is a huge no.

I do the best I can to read lips and nod like I heard everything when really I’m batting .75 on my best days.

Dang, how I miss my clever social jaguar ways.

They still happen, to be sure, but by the time I try to rearrange what I heard across the circle from “my kid just had a baby” – that definitely can’t be right lol – to “she told me maybe!” the window to laugh or for my witty retort is well past socially acceptable.

I’m still learning how to adjust to life after.

This happens to all of us, in some ways.

We leave high school where friendship is easy as we see each other 24/7 and have to learn the intimidating game of introducing ourselves to perfect strangers in our college dorms, classes, etc.

We master that and then everyone up and gets married and we have to learn how to schedule dinners and hangouts like they’re work meetings and acquaint with the awkward, “What’s new?” for the first 15 minutes.

Then we have kids and go all newborn survival turtle and when we come up for air it feels everyone has either moved or gotten close to someone else and we’re a 30-something puppy just wanting someone to play with them.

Maybe that’s just me, but my gut tells me we can all relate to the struggle of relearning how to find your people at different stages of life.

I’m learning to adjust to life after.

Life after college, after babies, after a deaf ear.

In the process, I’ve doubted myself. I’ve felt left out. I’ve regretted things I said or didn’t say. But I’ve also learned a heck of a lot and found my confidence I pray holds strong until I’m in the nursing home hosting Shirley Temple happy hours on the reg.

Here are a few truths I’ve realized about finding friendship in different stages of life.

1. Small talk is awkward for everyone.

Seriously everyone.

The high schooler trying to connect with the cool crowd. The employee clueless about the inside jokes shared over happy hour. The neighbor who remembers she told the same story for the third time and that must be why the subject was immediately deflected. #menotme

Ugg. The important thing is to remember everyone you’re talking to is a pile of insecurities. Don’t go all pity party, “I’m the only one” on us. No one wants that.

2. You’ve got to find (and re-find) people you don’t have to be “on” with.

The most important components of a solid, lasting friendship are availability and vulnerability. Find friends you can be those things with (and will be them for you!) and make them a priority.

These people will change and that’s OK. People you used to connect with change. You do too. Rather than fighting and clawing to get back what you had, let that crap go and find someone else.

3. If you’re afraid to invite/initiate/start the text thread, you will live a lonely life.

This is probably the most important one. You will have your family, sure. But for my ESFJ ways, I need to have people I can grab a drink with or call to sort through the highs and lows that go on inside these walls.

If you don’t need that, props, but if you do? Ask someone out to coffee, send the text asking how they are, introduce yourself to someone at the park. What’s the worst that can happen? Seriously.

Finding your people is hard.

Re-finding new people after a move, job, or family change is even harder. But you – yes, you – are an interesting adult that is worth hanging out with.

You are a clever, social jaguar.

Don’t let the ignored texts or hangouts kept at an arm’s distance tell you otherwise.

Be bold, send the invite, and build that dang community. And then another one. And then another one. 

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