Somehow I thought that when my kids moved out of the Sesame Street, goldfish crackers and naps stage of life, I’d have more interaction with actual grown-ups. I had this imaginary life planned in which I’d meet friends for coffee (I hate coffee) and conversation. I thought maybe I’d have hobbies I’d share with friends and we’d explore fabric stores, talking while we picked out the perfect fabric for quilts.
My kids kept their end of the bargain. They grew up. And I’m still here, feeding the guinea pig, the cat and the dog and spending whole days in my house slippers, feeling lonely.
Here’s the irony, though.
Tomorrow I have plans to go hear Ann Patchett speak about her new novel and I invited a friend. Saturday night, my husband and I are taking a couple out to dinner. And I’m already kind of sorry that I made plans. Now I can’t just lie in bed and read or drive to the beach and walk in the waves while the sun sets.
Instead, I have to orchestrate my day so I can be at the meeting place at 4:30 PM. We have to contend with Friday night traffic driving into San Diego. We have to find parking and find seats. I’m worrying about these dumb and simple obstacles. I’m even worrying that my friend won’t enjoy the evening (sometimes she reads this blog, so now I’m worried that she’ll read this and think I am truly off my rocker).
Sometimes I think that I’m solitary because I am terrible at making friends. Then sometimes I think I don’t make friends because I’m solitary by nature. Sometimes I think I am lonely because I’m awful at reaching out to people and being vulnerable. And then I think I am awful at reaching out to people because I prefer loneliness.
I am swirling in the whirlpool of these thoughts. I spend time considering why I feel like I have no friends and wishing I had some friends and telling myself that I do have friends but then when push comes to shove (I love that cliche’), I’d rather just be alone with my thoughts, bleak though they may be. And no one calls me, so it’s not all that difficult to isolate myself. (Oh, poor, poor, pitiful me.)
I have never, ever been good at socializing. I plowed through middle school, junior high and high school without ever really eating lunch in the cafeteria because the idea was so intimidating to me. Who would I sit with? What would I say? Even while actively wishing I were a social butterfly, I cultivated an interesting interior life, full of ideas and opinions and stories. I wanted to be included, but if it involved a big group of kids my age I would have declined. (Though I was deeply involved in a youth group through my teen years. I was still on the fringes of that group, aloof.)
This unfortunate trait reads as stuck-up and unfriendly. I know this, so I have practiced making small-talk and interacting like a normal human being in social situations.
And sometimes, I make plans for a Friday night and Friday comes, so I pick out clothes that a grown-up would wear, get dressed, fix my hair and go. Pray for me. Ha.
8 thoughts on “My so-called social life”
Sometimes I’d like to be somewhere without having to get there. Even now as we think of heading to the cottage, the collecting and packing of items and loading the car seems awfully troublesome.
As for the other point, as an introvert, I understand. I have no friends apart from my wife’s. Most of the time I am okay with this, but sometimes it seems pathetic.
Mostly, it feels pathetic when I compare myself with other people who seem to be having so much fun! Even if that “fun” doesn’t seem very fun to me!
You sound so much like me! I have an empty nest now. But the whole highschool, lonely friend thing, I totally understand and live it.
I love your blog. Haha, maybe if we lived closer, we would be friends.
Maybe we would! 🙂 Thanks for the comment.
Why does life have to be so complicated? I remember the time – when I was married with two small children – moving to a town where I knew no one, and it was such a lonely feeling. For six months, I knew no one – even though I attended a church – but one does not meet people and make friends while sitting in the nursery with a closed door to any sort of interaction. I can remember wishing I even knew where someone lived, so I could at least drive by their house. But I didn’t know that “someone”.
And now – so many years later, my phone still does not ring, nor do I call anyone. I think of people, but I give myself excuses as to why “now is not a good time to call”, and so, the silence continues. I live in a nice neighborhood, but other than knowing a patrolman lives across the street and someone next door is – or was – in the military – I know none of the neighbors. And when I go to church, I shake hands and smile. When they might ask if this is my first time there, it surprises them – and me, even – when I respond: “No – this is my home church. I just don’t know anyone.” When someone suggests I join a ladies Bible study, perhaps, I cringe inside. That would mean getting up early – getting dressed up nice, and walking into a room full of women I don’t know. That feeling scares me so much so that I stay home, alone. I look out my window and wonder about my neighbors, but don’t want to answer my own door if someone knocks, so I figure they wouldn’t want a stranger at their door either. And so it continues – this feeling of being pulled in two directions – do I want to have friends, or do I want to be comfortable. While I wish I had the friends, I love the “being comfortable” even more.
I say all that to say this – you are not alone – and I feel your pain.
even tho i am out with friend after church for lunch. attend bible study every Monday evening…i still can’t say i have a lot of friends. once in a while i will get a call to go do something with the crowd but not often. when i do…i really am thinking about being home…
i am really okay with it, i still work full time and by the time i get home, i just want to be by myself.
BUT–once in awhile i think my life is pretty pitiful.
i am a mixed bag of mess. ha ha
The love-hate thing with being an introvert is real. It’s my comfort and my worst enemy. I dont think extroverts have any social drawbacks. They are blind to the fact that they are sometimes shallow and uninteresting! 🙂
That made me laugh!