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Letter #18: Proactive Loneliness

October 18, 2010

Dear Growing Up,

You’re hard. Life after college isn’t easy. The transition that happens when one sets off into the real world is often painted into this awful, lonely experience. The real world definitely hasn’t been that for me, but it has definitely been a transition.

I often get the question, “How’s life after OSU and the Kanakuk Institute?,” followed very quickly with, “Have you made many friends?” Life is good. It’s not without obstacle, but I truly would describe it as good. I LOVE my job. My living situation is unbelievable. I feel like I’m doing a decent job of maintaining friendships with people living outside of Branson while slowly building a community in Branson. However, you are still quite the transition. You’re not bad; you’re just different.

The biggest lesson you have taught me is learning to enjoy doing things and being alone. I went from sorority and Institute life constantly surrounded by people my age with similar schedules to living hours away from friends and having completely different schedules than the ones I do live by. We all have our own lives and responsibilities we must take care of and by the time we’re off work, get dinner secured and take care of whatever else needs to happen, we’re tired. So, we go through the motions, finish our checklists and mope around about how we don’t have any friends.

The truth is that the real world isn’t the perfect set-up for making and maintaining friends. It’s hard and balance is key. The lesson of enjoying being alone has been difficult for me to learn. I’m a people person but have learned so much about myself because of it. Here’s a little secret: eating out, going to the grocery story, working out and even going to church alone doesn’t kill you. I’ve done them all, and I’m still in your midst. I’m finding my confidence and contentment in the Lord rather than friends.

While my biggest lesson has been embracing alone time, you have also taught me to be proactive. Waiting for friendships to fall into my lap when I’m in a new job, a new place and surrounded by new people is dumb and unrealistic. So, I have a choice: I can mope around about how I haven’t made any friends, or I can initiate conversation and plans among people my age. While the real world tells me growing up has to be hard and lonely, I am choosing (most of the time) to be proactive and build community in Branson while maintaining what I already have outside this place.

 

I will enjoy you as much as college if not more,

Successful real world transition advocate

 

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