Power of Companionship
At my ripe old age of 31, I have come to see the essential NEED of companionship. I’m not talking about my spouse, whom I love dearly, I am talking about friends. Friends won't fall into your lap for all of time and friendships won't always be convenient. As I have entered this stage of life, I am discovering the need to be more intentional with all aspects of life: work, relationships, time, and energy. You no longer attend school, you don’t do extracurricular activities, you are out of the dorms, the people you work with want to leave the office as soon as they get there and if you are lucky they might want to grab a beer with you after hours. None of these things are conducive to you developing close bonds with new people. That’s why most people continue to hang out with their ‘old friends’ throughout theirs lives. Not only do those people know a full picture of you, you have worked with them to build a bond over many years together. Those kinds of friendships should be kept, adored and still be a big part of your life, regardless of distance.
What is a person to do when they decide to scrap their ‘old life’ in favor of branching out in a new direction, in a new town, in a new state? For me it came as a rebel call of ‘look, I can do this all on my own!’ And that worked well for awhile. My husband and I grew closer than we could have ever imagined, we made some friends (that we immediately stopped seeing when we had RM) and then we lived on our island. Strong, independent, capable, secluded, lonely, wanting for more. No matter how much I ended up valuing that independence and everything that we can say we created, there was always a void. That void sparked deep conversations every few months about throwing in the towel and moving home. We have talked for many hours, written all of the pros and cons lists, looked at housing and jobs in both places never knowing the right call to make.
With the available technology and ease of communication today, having a close bond with people 2,000 miles away is still possible. I feel like we have wonderful relationships with friends and family all over the country, it just takes more intentional effort. We can talk often, see each others faces, and even have virtual play-dates so everyone can get some quality FaceTiming time. I should also say that when time with family is limited, it is always more cherished. When you get limited time with people, you tend to make the most of that time together. That being said, there is something different about being immersed with another human, present in the same room together, able to tickle and hug, not able to hang up when the chaos begins. I know that raising the boys there would be easier. We could go on dates, I could get a few hours off throughout the day to accomplish any number of tasks, they would have close relationships with their cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Heck we could have a better relationship with those people.
The hardest thing I have ever had to say out loud was that for us, that alone was not enough. We have found our home in Utah, and it is good. I finally fit somewhere. Really truly felt that I belonged, no longer a square peg in round hole. That, combined with the adventure chasing I had always wanted and this was home. We had trouble for years saying out loud that we were staying because we wanted to. No job was keeping us here, we weren’t trapped in a living situation, we weren’t stuck here for any reason other than we wanted to be. It is hard every day, but this place full of adventure and wonder is our home. Regardless of where we live my heart will forever be torn between my two homes.
We are here now, mind and bodies, raising our family and adventuring. We have made friends along the way and have really started to dig into those people deeper. As with all things, there has been some trial and error finding our people, but I feel good about where I am at right now and the direction I am going. We are both connecting to people that don’t live in this house, and that has brought a newfound peace inside our home.
So how did I do it? It will look different for everyone, but our old neighborhood was incredibly welcoming. We were all trudging through the trenches with raising our tiny humans, and having a community literally outside my front door was so wonderful. I am not sure how I would have survived the transition to being a mom of 2 without their support and love. While you can start by being a good neighbor, I understand that option is largely out of your control. I also scoured Facebook mom groups and then I showed up for events until I weeded out groups that definitely didn’t fit and found a few that were just right. There are so many groups out there you are bound to find something to meet your needs. Don’t just creep in the background, participate in real life, meet women face to face; it makes a difference.
Those are good options for stay at home moms, but what about working moms and dads? The most recent thing we have done that has already turned our home life around is join a church. We started attending about a year before we actually began digging in deep. Since we have started joining small groups we have been able to not only start to figure out where we stand in our faith, but also connected to men and women that have quickly become good friends. There are many other ways to connect to your community, your thing can be farmers markets, church, philanthropy, or even your work. Whatever you chose to use as your way to connect to the world, make sure you actually interact with people in those places. Some people have this incredible way of walking into a room and immediately making friends and opening up. I am not that person, so starting online and in group settings was an easier way for me to put myself out there. Even as an introvert, I had to make the intentional effort to connect.
Living in a place with so many activities happening all year around, there are still extracurricular options for people to get plugged in to, even as an adult. Try the MeetUp App to find sports leagues or groups that like the same kind of activities that you do. There are groups that meet to play music, drink beers, discuss politics or religion, play any number of sports, book clubs, gardening, etc. If you are interested in it, there is a group out there doing it on all different time tables. Take the time to write out things that light you up inside, and then just do a Google or FaceBook search, you might be surprised to find how many people around you share those interests.
However you find connection in your life, please do not stubbornly go through life too independent to connect to other humans. We were created to be creatures in community, celebrating good times and surviving bad times together. Social media is great, but face to face conversations and physical contact (as simple as a handshake or hug from a friend) can make you feel everything on a much deeper level. I feel grounded in my new home, my roots beginning to grow both wider and deeper and I am finally starting to feel like I am no longer on an island.