I’m not new by any means to my current city. I have lived in Portland for more than three years. I live with my SO, who is essentially my best friend. I have a friend group from high school that I keep in touch with daily through a very active group chat. And, though it took a long time, I have managed to cultivate some new, local friendships throughout my time here in the Rose City. By most standards, my life has been blessed with a bounty of deep and beautiful friendships.
Recently, however, effectively half of my close local friends have moved away to different cities. Both were from different friend groups, and yet their departure dates were less than two weeks apart.
In some ways, this makes me all the more grateful for my remaining friends here. In other ways, I feel as lonely as ever.
Sometimes, when things in my life aren’t feeling quite right, my mind begins to consider overly romanticized life events that might offer (at least at face value) more meaning to it. Usually, this manifests itself in shopping sprees or daydreams of moving to “the big city.” This time, I dreamt of adopting a dog.
Last night, as I was scrolling through Petfinder to find a potential new furry friend, I caught myself amid my mental escapism. As I realized what I was doing, I expressed to my SO that I was starting to feel a bit lonely, and that, though the idea of a dog is often a fickle daydream, I might want to follow through with it this time. Today, he mentioned that he was worried about me, which got me thinking–is it so bad to be a little bit lonely? Is not having many friends really as detrimental as we make it out to be?
It’s pretty strange, isn’t it? Logically, I know that I’ve been surrounded by friends for most of my life. I have moved various times throughout my twenties, and have always managed to find a group of friends. Yet, despite all this, the fact that my local friend count these days is greatly diminishing makes me feel a strange mix of guilt, pressure, and loneliness. So much so, that I can’t tell if I feel actual loneliness, or loneliness because I shouldn’t be this alone.
Humans are ultimately social beings. And we heavily rely on community, whether we realize it or not. These days, our friend groups have replaced the more traditional “communities” that our modern world has phased out. In this sense, I know I need to put myself out there, and foster a closer sense of community. Sometimes, though, especially in the age social media bragging, it’s as if I need to go out and make friends to prove to others that I am, in fact, not incapable of being a functional social being. Because if I do not socialize, then there must be something wrong with me…right?
And, yet, in an age where people are moving so often and increasingly living in isolation–I can’t be the only one who feels this?