This pandemic has thrown the gauntlet that officially changed me into a new person. Change may not be the correct word, as I have always had this part of me as a definitive characteristic. I am now a confident loner.
In high school I developed a handful of close friends, but had close acquaintances throughout all of the typical high school social “classes”. I made good with numerous people that included the jocks, the popular bitches, the hicks (aka farm folk), the nerds (I was one, so easy). I was an “in between-er”. My brother’s friend described my brother perfectly one day calling him a “floater”. I soon realized that she was describing me too.
If you would have asked me in high school if I was happy with my friends I would have said “yes, absolutely.” My mom described me as a social butterfly and I felt like I knew most of my classmates. College hit and my friend structure vanished.
Three years ago if you told me to let go of all my acquaintances and 2nd tier friends, I would have panicked. Ask my husband, boyfriend at the time, how I adjusted to my first semester of college. I wanted to make numerous high quality friends in the first week. News flash: this is not realistic. I was an anxious, controlling, desperate mess. Luckily I joined the university curling team after a few months and made some friends that I still frequent today. One stood up in my wedding, and I stood up in hers. By the time I left my college town I could not make it through a stop at the grocery store without recognizing someone.
Then we decided to live out of our car for the summer. Checking my phone became a task, a chore, and frankly quite bothersome. I stared out the window and wondered what would happen next. I slept in Wal-Mart parking lots and took in the aesthetic of life.
Then I moved to Boston with my partner, Nate, knowing only my great aunt who lived an hour north. I made a few friends in school and enjoyed their company and peer support. The local church down the street also gave us an awesome and immediate church family. Wow, I thought. Making friends and a community was so easy. I am so good at this. This was the truth. I am good at making connections and acquaintances. Those connects sometimes turn into lasting friendships, but usually after months, if not years.
COVID-19 resulted in Nate and I being practically locked in a crowded apartment with another couple and two Guinea pigs. Urban life during an unprecedented national lockdown is not exciting.
Fast forward a few months including camper quarantines and living in my parent’s basement (again), and we found ourselves in a new city with a new job. I have zero friends. Online church doesn’t yield those awkward encounters that lead to awkward meet ups that lead to less awkward meetups. I realized today that the closest thing I have made to a friend are two hosts of the Bigger Pockets real estate podcast. Yes, I am still social through work, and snapchat, and Nate, and my mom who calls me every 72 hours. Chole Ting and Yoga with Adrianne have kept me moving and a change of scene in this new city has been exceedingly grounding.
I have been given space. No, I have been forced into space. We all have experienced this to a point. Space to think and stare at our phone and wonder why the heck we are still looking. This lack of space has followed me since my childhood because this society is always doing and connecting, despite the purpose or the benefit. Yes connection and action is what allows us feel like we belong. We belong, despite the number of connections or whatever you give yourself worth in.
The “floater” trait I have carried since high school has become more distinct. The comfortability of not having an identity in human friends has subsided. I am floating in this new space. As I float around, now I get to see clearly where it’s worth landing.