I’m a pretty independent person. Some (like my parents, siblings and husband) might say stubbornly independent. Generally, if given the choice to spend time in a group or alone, I’ll choose alone. I like my space. I like being alone with my thoughts. I like being alone. Which makes stay-home motherhood interesting, but that’s for another post.
I’ve always liked solitude, but think it started in earnest in college. During my four years at a really big university, Texas A&M, I made several friends, but never really found a core group. During my season at Texas A&M, at least in my group of acquaintances, the focus was 1. finding a spouse and 2. getting a degree. In that order. The class ring is a big deal at Texas A&M (meaning every student gets one) and I often heard girls talk about hoping to graduate with a ring on both hands. Meaning a class ring and an engagement ring. ps – I graduated with only a class ring
Of the girls I became friends with (and still consider many friends today), there was a rotating door of who was available to hang out with depending on who was dating at the time. Since I didn’t date much, I felt like I was second best, like I was the person to hang out with if your boyfriend was busy or if you were between boyfriends. Thus, I learned to be quite content hanging out alone, as I wasn’t second best to myself. Also, I had many friends who had majors that were less demanding than my science major, so I also had to spend more time studying than most of my friends, which also lead to more alone time.
I loved the freedom from rigid schedules that college allows. I loved having accountability only to myself. My days were mine to plan. Yes, I had some nights where I really wished I had a boyfriend or a best friend who wanted to spend time specifically with me. But I didn’t just want anybody. I wanted someone who I actually enjoyed being with, not just someone to pass the time.
I started dating my now-husband just after we graduated. We conveniently waited until we left the city we lived in together for 4 years to start dating. Don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Our relationship started on a backpacking trip through Europe with friends and continued through 2.5 years of living in different states as I went from an internship to graduate school.
I loved graduate school and almost immediately found myself a part of a group. The graduate students in the program were almost all from out of state and we bonded immediately. I found a group of people who were very motivated students, but also understood that this was our last chance at college life. We worked hard and played hard. I had a boyfriend (the now husband) who I loved and who appreciated the real me. I had friends who were like me in some ways and also different enough that I got exposed to many different cultures, viewpoints and backgrounds. Those 2 years in North Carolina were some of the best of my life.
Both graduate school and a serious relationship (that lead to marriage) taught me that while independence is good, it’s also nice to be a part of something. Whether that’s a romantic relationship relationship, a true friendship, a team, a club or a blogging community, we need something that allows for growth as a person and allows us to help others grow too. Life gets tricky and it’s awfully wonderful to have people to help navigate the rocky path.
I think that learning to be content on your own is essential. It is a skill I hope I can impart to my children. I will always enjoy time alone. But it’s also quite nice to feel connected.
Which leads me to these past few weeks.
For the first year of so after we moved here, I felt a little isolated. We were meeting people and such, but with all that raising two little munchkins entails, there wasn’t a lot of time to devote to building new friendships. Plus, you can’t exactly add ‘make a new friend’ to your weekly to-do list. Friendships take time. I don’t like forced friendships. I like the organic friendships that come naturally and easily.
Lately, though, I’ve started to feel like I’m a part of something. And I like it. A lot.
Through the friends I’ve made blogging and the encouraging comments they leave, to the mysterious friend who ‘boo-ed’ us this week (left a bag of halloween goodies on our doorstep), to the friend who voluntarily offered to watch my little guy (for 6 hours!) so I could volunteer at my daughter’s first field trip, to my old friends who are always up for a phone call, I’ve felt appreciated, loved and valued. And it feels nice. Thank you friends. I’m glad you don’t let me do it alone.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.