I have a great many things I want to write about lately, but have not had the time, mental clarity, or energetic space to do so. I’ve been spending a lot of time with family while visiting Virginia. After traveling the nation full time for a year, it feels wonderful to be in one place for a while, where I know the people, and I am welcome in their homes and in their lives. I can walk right into the house without knocking. If I’m not there when the kids get home from school, they are texting me, asking where I am. It has created a sense of belonging that I have always craved in my life. But it has also been very demanding of my time and energy.
Someone recently asked me if I have found my tribe. She unwittingly asked the million dollar question. This has been a large part of my life story since I was a child. Events and circumstances in my life have taught me many valuable lessons about friendships and family, and it seems to be an on-going theme.
The first twelve years of my life were spent on Colonial Drive. I went to the same elementary school, with the same classmates, from kindergarten to sixth grade. If I wasn’t playing with my three brothers, then I was playing with the same kids on my block that I have always played with. This was my tribe. This was my home. And it marks the longest period of time that I have ever lived in one place in my 41 years on planet earth in this body.
I never went to the same school for more than a year after that. In eighth grade, I went to three different schools, in two different states. We moved from city to city, town to town, until I got out of school. I cannot remember the names of any of the friends I made during that time. Nor have I kept in contact with the friends I grew up with on Colonial Drive. The few that I have bumped into when I first returned to South Florida seemed like strangers to me. I no longer knew these people, and they didn't know me.
This experience has made it difficult for me to learn how to make friends, and keep them. I see others whose closest circle of friends are the same as it was 30 years ago. They talk to each other daily, or have Saturday dinners together with the families, or take trips together. This is so foreign to me. So there must be something wrong with me, right? Why am I not getting invited to watch the game on Sunday, or picnics and bar-b-ques?
My friends always seemed to be work buddies. Some of them I partied hard with back in my 20’s. But life goes on, and people move away. Only two remain a constant in my life; meaning we try to get together for brunch once a year, and occasionally send each other silly memes. Once I hit my 30’s, I seldom saw my work buddies outside of work. We just weren’t that type of friends. I always found it odd that you can spend 40 hours a week with someone, truly care about them and what was happening in their lives, but if one of you leaves the company, the friendship seems to cease to exist. Almost as if we don’t know how to maintain a friendship outside the office space. And I have always mourned the loss of these people in my daily life.
Now I work from home, and there are no office buddies to spend my day with. And I am left wondering how do adults make new friends? I live in an RV and travel full time, so no neighbors to befriend (not that I was ever good at making friends with the neighbors as an adult). We don’t have children, so no making friends with other parents (no common ground). We don’t attend a church, club, or any other social function. And truth be told, I am quite shy, and always worry that others will not grasp my unique weirdness. I hold back while I analyze the vibes from others, and become the chameleon trying to fit it.
But here’s the real kicker. I love my alone time. I crave it and need it in large doses. I function very well alone for long periods of time. Family and friends can seem like obligations of my time and energy, and I hate feeling obligated. But perhaps this is meant to create balance in my life so that I can accomplish that which I came here to do without the distractions. I'm very picky about who I let into my life. I do not assume that just because someone was there at the beginning, they should always be there. I do not feel guilty for not being able to maintain a friendship, because after all, a telephone works both ways. I am extremely protective of my time and space. I will not allow just anyone in. And I have zero tolerance for someone who is needy, or does not respect my time.
So, we come to the lessons learned:
I love all of you. Thank you for your role in my life!
Written by: Elizabeth DiPace
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