the northern report
I found this blog recently (through the July 4th blogfest) and have enjoyed reading about the blogger’s attempts to build community after moving to Minneapolis in her forties. I relate to the ups and downs of her experience as well as her disappointment in Meetup groups (not enough of “same time, same place, same people”). Check it out:
A few scattered samples that resonated with me:
In the spirit of “the cream will rise to the top,” I’ve implemented a “3 strikes” rule – social baseball, if you will. I’ll invite someone out 3 times – if they aren’t interested or don’t throw the invite ball back to me, I’ll move on to other potential fish in the friendship sea. I’m also targeting my efforts to go on numerous outings with the same group. Concentrated efforts are more effective than scattered ones. Also, when I see the same people time and time again, the comfort level increases.
Transplants may want to adopt the Little Engine’s mantra “I think I can, I think I can.” Set your expectations of reciprocity to zero – it makes things easier. Sometimes an M & M Blizzard helps too.
The thing about this solo lifestyle is there aren’t really any ”how to navigate this” guides – no roadmaps or mentors – it seems nearly everyone is married or divorced with kids. The best book I’ve found is Barbara Feldon’s (yes – Agent 99!) book Living Alone and Loving It – the only book of its kind. My existential dilemma is if I’m not getting married or having a family, what’s my purpose? I am in a helping profession – is that enough or is there something else I’m to devote my life to?
So with 50 just 2 short years away, I love owning my own home, have a great job, and am doing quite well overall. However, that elusive life partner isn’t showing up. What if I spend the rest of my days unpartnered? The snowball then runs down the hill – what if I’m old and alone with health issues and no one to talk to or take care of me? Having no one to call me to celebrate my birthday drove that point home. I hope this doesn’t sound self-pitying – it’s not. The existential question is how do people live into old age without others to lean on?
That said, how does one look forward to many more holiday seasons potentially alone? Without a doubt, Xmas and New Year’s are far harder than Valentine’s Day – it’s the family-dom of it all. I know the root of all evil is unmet expectations. Change the expectations of how the holidays should be (“It’s a Wonderful Life” surrounded by family and friends) and they’re going to be much less painful to handle.
Opportunities for “same time, same place, same people” have worked far better for forging friendships than my Transplant meetup group where I run into people once and then don’t see them again for months.
Meetups have not proven to be a source of real friends, though I always expect them to be, for some reason. The proper mindset is “make attendance about the event itself rather than making friends.” I can’t seem to adopt this mindset, so I usually end up disappointed.