Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
If one word could sum up the last year and a half of my life it is “transition.” While I am doing my best to transition in so many areas of my life — geographically relocating to Boston; ending a serious, long-term relationship; changing careers; and regaining my health — my current career, financial, and health status has certainly wreaked havoc on my social life.
This transition period has left me feeling alone and lost — unable to navigate a new city, a new way of life and attempting to do it on my own. I feel the stigma associated with where I am at in life; lacking career success, independence, and financial stability has made it difficult to make new friends and seriously entering the dating scene seems almost laughable.
While I have lived in Boston almost nine months now, the truth is most of my social network of friends still remain in D.C. Part of this is my fault — it is difficult to “let go” of the only life I have known for the past decade and “move on.” It is a comfort thing to hold onto the last strands of a life that I used to know, but the other part is a product of the stigma I feel around the place I am at in my life as compared to where I feel I should be.
The fact is, I don’t have it all together and current life is not exactly glamorous. My life certainly does not scream: “I have it all together, I’m really fun, and come hang out with me.”
When I lived in D.C., my life was career focused and my social network reflected that. The city was filled with young, politically-savvy professionals well versed in the art of networking. Social events seemed to have a standard-operating procedure, making it relatively easy to navigate and meet new people. D.C. social events went something like this: show up to an event; see people you already knew; meet others that while you didn’t know personally, were somehow connected to your existing social or professional circle through mutual friends or colleagues. Rinse, lather, and repeat at the next event.
Flash forward to my current life and I feel lost. Lost in so many ways. I still cannot even navigate the city (yes, my fault), nor could I tell you what neighborhoods I like (my fault again), so tackling the social scene at this point seems like a distant goal that one day I hope to achieve but really could not tell you how I plan to get there.
I feel lost because I no longer have a built-in peer network and it has honestly taken me awhile to get my sea legs underneath me and even figure out how to meet new people outside of a career environment. As I stumble out of the gate on my wobbly legs, I often wonder where I would even begin to find a new social circle of friends. Most people my age seem to already have their own existing, established lives and it can be difficult and intimidating to try to break through those existing networks.
On top of this, my lifestyle doesn’t exactly lend itself to meeting a network of like-minded people and creating a new social network for myself. In my new, not-so-glamorous life, I spend most of the days studying — alone and at home — and then working at night. While, yes, I did choose this schedule for myself so that I can transition into a new career and lifestyle, it doesn’t make my day-to-day existence any easier.
The tumultuous transitions in my life over the past year and a half also included the ending of a serious three-and-a-half-year relationship. At almost thirty years old, having a significant other sort of seems like a needed credential to be accepted into the “I’m cool” and “you should take me serious” club.
Most people I know at my age are married, engaged, or in a long-term relationship headed towards the wedding chapel. It’s almost like you are a freak and something MUST be wrong with YOU to still be single at my age.
Beyond the social stigma that I feel about being single again (which one could argue I’ve labeled and unnecessarily put on myself), being in a relationship altered the way I approached social situations and it has taken me awhile to become comfortable again with being an “I” instead of a “we.”
While in a long-term relationship, I became comfortable knowing that someone always had my back. I was not facing the world alone, but rather as part of a team. It’s not as though my social circle became less important, but my priorities shifted. I didn’t feel as though I had to go out every weekend and meet new people, rather I was content with the important people I already had in my life.
With this relationship over, I now feel like I’m a team of one, in a new city, meeting new people, and doing it on my own. The strong, independent side of me wants to look at my situation with all of the blissful possibilities it presents. I’m free to remake myself in any way that I want and be as selfish as I want at any given moment. I can make my own schedule without having to worry about someone else.
Go for a run on a whim because I feel like it? I can do that. Take the long way home because I want some extra fresh air? No one to answer to there. Pop into a café unexpectedly and stay for as long or as little time as I would like? I don’t feel guilty there because there is no one waiting on the other side for me to come home.
While being single again presents all of these wonderful experiences, when it comes down to it, it is also an utterly terrifying experience for me. I feel exposed. I no longer have the comfort of a significant other to hide behind or for moral support. I am no longer defined by being “so-and-so’s’” girlfriend. It is just me, and the people I meet can accept or reject me. I think that is what is so scary.
While it has been scary to break out on my own, I do believe that as I continue to transition in other areas of my life I will gain the confidence to put myself out there more and will begin meeting new people and hopefully start dating again. While these things are always in the back of my mind, I try not to concentrate on it to much.
For now, I’m concentrating on nutrition school, starting a new business, my health, and generally trying to stay afloat. I know that once these pieces are on solid foundation everything else will come together. I will eventually find my map to navigating my new city and my new life.