Thursday, June 07, 2012

Friend Groups: Starting Over Post Graduation

I had a pretty stellar friend group in college. We were an odd collection of thinkers and doers. We liked discussing theology. We liked night hikes and camping without tents. We liked food. As we grew older past 21 years, we liked a good bottle of wine and cheese from the Cheese Shoppe. We like Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. We liked to make fun of Eric Seidle's facial hair.

It was easy.

I woke up this May after finals and realized: they were all gone.

Not entirely. There are still several in State College and we hang out together. Melanie is my roommate. There is a decent turn out for each of Dan Conway's "Wine and Cheese" nights at the end of every grading period. There are people and they are my friends and I see them often.

But it is smaller and growing smaller. Seth moves next week. Anjali moves in August to Oregon and will no longer be able to head us all towards Zbar on a weekend evening or tell us the proper way to hold pipettes. I won't be living with Mel next year.

I woke up this May after finals and realized: I had not re-established a community.

It had been busy. I was completely engaged in work at Calvary and on campus. I had fabulous roommates. My sister was nearby. And #PSUBallroom was well over 40 people whose names and faces I was trying to learn.

But then May came and the empty space opened around me and I realized that for the first time since my first year in college, I was going to have to go hunting for community.

It's humbling to put yourself out there and say, "I need friends. Please be my friend."

But I'm finding them. Lois and the Third Place crew are letting me do it and don't make it seem as strange as it feels to me. Walking into parties where I'm "the kid" again unsettles me, but I'm trying. I'm having to face my "I'm not a grad student and therefore not as capable or legitimate" insecurity complex [a strictly college town phenomenon I'm pretty sure]. I'm showing up to help in community gardens (I don't garden) and at stranger's houses for meals. I'm trying to remember to introduce myself to the people around me and I'm relearning the small talk codes I've leaned on since high school. I'm horribly shy, an experience I really haven't dealt with for years. I'm on new turf and it isn't mine and I'm used to knowing the layout in the dark.

It may have taken me a year, but I'm finding my way out of undergrad and into this strange Next.


Jade P. said...

This was really comforting to me :) Please believe, as a grad student Im facing the same thing and the same complex with a different twist "I'm a grad student but i feel like im not as capable as the next" lolol! I'm in Chicago now for 2 months, doing the same thing. :) Random visits. Being the new girl. Thanks for posting this. It's comforting to hear about your experience.

dolce vita said...

I'm terrified about reestablishing a community that doesn't entirely center amongst the 166 other medical students. Someone want to move with me to make it happen?

Annie said...

I'm starting/about to start/trying to avoid this whole thing as I move out of undergrad to what I'm calling the "post-grad life." I'm glad to know I'm not the only one dealing with it!