A Season for Everything—The Practical Side
Do you have many friends? A few close friends? Or maybe just one best friend? Hopefully you do not live your life feeling isolated and have friends, family or both to share in your life’s greatest joys as well as the challenges you face. If you do have a best friend or a small group of friends, think about them now. Visualize them and then think back on your life 5 years before that and then 5 years before that. If you go back 10 years or if you are old enough 20 years from now, does your circle of friends look the same? There are countless reasons that our friend circles change.
There was a season in my life many years ago as a young adult when it felt like every one of my close friends moved away. I had a friend move to North Carolina, another to Seattle, one to Michigan and another to Kentucky. Of course not EVERY single one of my friends moved away, but it felt that way at the time.
Moving is perhaps the most obvious cause of a change in friendships since you can’t regularly see someone who is not geographically close to you. However, there are numerous reasons our friendships change. We fall sick or receive a tough medical diagnosis. We get engaged and spend most of our time with our new fiancé/fiancée. We have babies and are too exhausted to hang out. We go back to school to earn a degree while working full time and are too busy to see our friends. The reasons are endless, but whatever the reason—friendships change.
The first part in navigating changing friendships is simply to realize that friendships change. In my early twenties and fresh out of undergraduate school, I had this ideal that I would “do life” with my current circle of friends…forever. I thought I would watch them get married and have babies and start careers. So you can imagine how blindsided I was when my best friends started moving away one by one. Now, however, I realize that though time and circumstances affect who I am friends with, I am still able to have relationships in whatever season of life I find myself in. The friends and types of people around me may differ depending on where I am in my life; however, if I look hard enough there are thankfully always people to connect with. Sometimes meeting these people is easier than others, but more seasons than not I have discovered there are people there that will journey life with me if I reach out.
Once you realize that your friendships and your friends themselves will change throughout the course of your life you can navigate the next step—finding your circle. If you do not currently have a close friend or circle of friends ask yourself some basic questions like: 1) What are my current interests ?, 2) What are my current emotional needs ?, 3) Where do people near me gather—for example, synagogues, churches, community centers, parks, YMCAs, etc.? For example, if I am Jewish and have a son on the autism spectrum I may consider joining a synagogue and finding a mom’s group in my community for mothers of children on the spectrum. Or, if I like art, I may consider volunteering at a local gallery or joining or starting a weekly coffee group for artists.
The most important thing to grasp when it comes to changing friendships is that you should never be without support. Ideally, you should never be without a friend—at least one friend or close family member in whom you can confide. Now, I completely understand seasons of loneliness. All of my friends I mentioned earlier went through seasons of loneliness when they moved to new states. It took time for them to meet people and make friends. However, isolation should not be the norm for you and it rarely if ever fosters emotional health. I always say that every person needs at least one good friend and at least one good coping skill and I truly believe this.
If you are feeling lonely, depressed or isolated or are in need of extra support at this time please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with a trained Orlando psychotherapist. No person should have to weather life alone. Call today to find the support and skills you need to navigate your current life season and become the best version of yourself you can be.