Monday, February 7, 2011
My cyber friend Linda, the baglady, recently wrote about maintaining social networks in retirement. She pointed out that people have differing needs for social contact. Some of us require more social contact than others. Another blog friend, DJan, wrote about the changes to her daily routine since she retired. One of the benefits of joining the blogging community has been getting to know other bloggers who are at the same stage of life as me. I'm constantly learning something new and forced to examine my own thinking.
So the baglady got me thinking about my own social contacts. One of the things that has been challenging for me in retirement is that I no longer have the casual social connections that I had when I was working. There are a lot of informal social outings that come about because of daily contact with a group of people. Someone will mention that there's a craft fair on Saturday and someone else will suggest that it would be fun to go as a group and with little or no effort a weekend becomes full with group activities. There are automatic invitations to holiday parties when you're working. There's also an immediate support system when something goes wrong. You're immediately missed when you don't show up for work. All that stops when employment ends.
I haven't been diligent in establishing new social contacts or maintaining my relationships with pre-retirement friends. It takes work and I haven't put forth the effort on a regular basis. I have enjoyed the few activities that I 've organized. But, there's the gist of the issue... I have to organize it. I've come to realize that my need for social contact isn't very high.
I don't have a best friend. I am sometimes envious of Oprah's relationship with her best friend, Gayle...but not envious enough to work at being a better friend. I think it gets harder to establish friendships as I get older. There's something so comfortable with old friends. You don't have to explain the history and they accept you for what you are and forgive you the obvious flaws. The hard work in building the relationship was done years ago. The problem with old friends is that things change. People die, or move away, or get a divorce. The crowd of old friends is diminishing.
As I get older, family assumes a greater role in my social network. They provide all the benefits of old friends and they're always there...usually with only a few snide comments about not having heard from me in a long time.
I live in a rural area. There aren't a lot of organized social activities in which to participate. I have a writing group that meets a couple of times a month...I organized it. I attend the Lions Club meeting every other Wednesday. I can't bring myself to attend the senior citizen lunches. My old friend, Dick, invited me to go with him, but I guess I haven't fully accepted that I am a senior.
I think I'm just going to adopt a cat for companionship.