How Do I People Again?

I’ve been thinking about my lack of peopling lately. About how some of the ways I use to socialize just don’t exist anymore (Yoga/Beer classes), but most of the ways I used to socialize just don’t smoothly fit in my chaotic life. The pandemic is changing all of us, obviously. But I feel like I added a few extra layers on top of mine with losing my Mom who I was caring for in various capacities at various times since 2018, starting working in a job that keeps me out later than most jobs, and working through my Eating Disorder recovery. Many of the ways I used to socialize were changed by any/all of those factors.

I don’t run anymore. That was a HUGE part of my social life. I miss many of my running friends desperately. And while I’ve tried to walk more, it’s hard because without a normal 9-5 work schedule, my walking times are constantly in flux and hard to schedule around. My 10-year old book club finally is getting back together monthly after taking a mostly 2-year break, but my schedule has just not allowed for me to participate. Our budget needs have changed which means I don’t have as much “Let’s grab a bite to eat together!” money as we might have had at other times.

And also…I forgot how to People.

If you’ll recall, I developed some pretty hindering social anxieties from 2003-2009. I didn’t do hardly any socializing and when I was thrust into social situations (like with my husband’s activities), I had full panic attacks resulting in terribly embarrassing (to me) situations. After Dad died, I forced myself to get out more because he struggled socializing his whole life and I wanted to try to avoid his same fate. He had “friends” when he died, but really just people he knew from work. That was it.

And I did great for the next 10+ years!

But now…not so great.

We had to go to an event for one of my kid’s this weekend and I was actually going to know people there, people I like, but I had a panic attack. Which I haven’t had in awhile and I was with Donnie who hasn’t seen me have one in awhile and it was NOT pretty.

So now I’m trying to think, How does the new me socialize?

Now…I did have a book exchange party at Christmas time that was lovely, but it was 10+ people which is not the kind of gathering where you can actually build stronger bonds with people. Which is what I miss. I like a little more intimate gatherings, where I can have decent conversation and not have to bounce around so much.

I decided this would be my dream event: Gathering around a big table in a location that was NO someone’s house with a few like-minded people where we all bring our creative activity of choice. Then we can enjoy conversation but we also have something to “do” so it’s low-pressure. We also get to feed off each other’s creative energy which I love.

Another dream event would be book talk and beer. Just meet at a tap room and talk about books. And lucky for me! There’s actually a library event that is JUST THAT, but that’s NEW people and I haven’t braved going yet. I kinda want to just organize it myself. Like, with MY book loving friends.

My other problem is my life is full and it’s hard to fit things in. And while I do find human connection something to prioritize, practically it’s difficult. And I know everyone else is the same so even if/when I reach out, I don’t want to become a burden to someone. So sometimes I just want to reach out and say, “Um…hi. I would love some quality time in conversation with you. Do you have any tasks you do that I could join in on? Walk in the dog? Grocery shopping? Hobbies?” But then that takes the pressure off THEM and puts it on ME and that’s not sustainable.

I don’t know. Running was honestly the easiest way ever to make friends. No eye-contact. Pre-established locations and mutual goals and commitments. It’s going to be hard to figure out how to build friendships without something that easy to rely on.

How are YOU peopling in this new era?

3 thoughts on “How Do I People Again?”

  1. It feels like I’m re-learning how to socialize, too. It doesn’t help that I was in the middle of a very bad divorce right at the beginning of the pandemic and I’m now the primary parent, so socialization is very different now. I’m happy, overall. I’m figuring it out. Once a month I’m trying to set up a pizza/movie night (which may devolve into a dance party night) and the parents are welcome to stay, too. We did that last Friday and three moms sat around a table and played cribbage (badly) while the kids did kid stuff. We were in the same room but didn’t have to be present for the kids, mostly, and it was really nice. I have to actively seek out socialization now, and I think that’s the difference – it has to be intentional because otherwise it doesn’t happen.

  2. I’ve been struggling with this too. In the “before time” I was very active with a local women’s group. We had monthly meetings, projects we worked on, and gathered for other things. These were my people.
    They kept gathering in person duringthe pandemic. I just couldn’t do that with my husband’s health and I didn’t want to get or spread anything. Also many were not vaccinated (I’m a blue dot in a very red county). I finally just resigned my position and membership.
    I miss that feeling of belonging and the activities. I still have some of the friendships but some have fallen off.
    We are planning on moving to another part of the state soon and the thought of trying to make new friends terrifies me.

  3. I’m not, really. I’m at home almost 24/7, other than gassing up the car or going through a drive-thru (or like today, picking up my granddaughter from school). It’s very easy to go a few weeks without talking to anyone other than my sons who live here (one works full time days, the other full time nights).

    I am participating in an online group based on Instagram with @sharonsaysso. There are iG lives and Zoom meetups (book discussions and author interviews!!). I don’t always speak up, but I love hearing others’ comments, and try to participate in the chat. You’d love the group; we’re doing a John Green book this semester, and get to Zoom with him!

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