When You're Void of Peers

Do you have peers around you? Same age, stage of life, etc...?

In high school you're surrounded by peers. In college, again, you're surrounded by peers. In your first grown-up job there is a good chance you'll be surrounded by peers too.

In my case, that is exactly how things panned out. I had such amazing college friends who, when we graduated, mostly remained in the same area. Maybe that's unusual, but once a month or so, we'd plan a dinner to meet up or maybe we'd even be spontaneous enough in our new, job-y lifestyles to grab coffee on a weekday after work. We'd show up in our cardigans and pencil skirts and talk about wedding planning, newlywed life, or swap funny work stories. Then one of us moved... and then another...

For us that moved away, we found ourselves a little forlorn. Who would I get dinner with once a month and swap funny marriage stories with? In fact, who can I talk openly about my life with now?

In college, our friendships grew from a clean slate. We hadn't dated much, gone bar hopping, bought our own wardrobe, lived outside our parent's homes... so as we learned to navigate life, we navigated it together.  We saw each other breakdown under the pressure of school work or breakups. We helped each other scrape our way through the poorest of poor and pay rent and still manage to eat. Our heart-to-hearts were encouraging, understanding, faith-based, and always on the same page. When one of us was hurting, there were people there to comfort and knowingly offer hugs, a sleepover, and a drink.

When marriages physically separated us, the understanding and knowing words of encouragement remained. Our lives still mirrored one another in changes, accomplishments, and frustrations.

Having been one that moved away, the lack of peers has been hard. Of all the adjustments in being 800 miles from all that's familiar (yes, I'm still not used to Georgia!), having spot-on commonality is something I desperately miss. Sure, I can call any of these people and say "So remember when Tom and I got in that dumb argument about ___? Well the subject came up again and he totally gets what I mean now and we laughed about it," but I can't grab their favorite drink at Starbucks and show up on their doorstep.

One of these nearest and dearests is now pregnant. She has peers around her that are also nearing that stage. They get to learn about weird pregnancy things together and cry about how their pants don't fit anymore and how they sleep really bad now. I'm so excited for her and I love hearing about every step of the way.

But it got me thinking about how much I miss my peers. How when at some point I am expecting a little babe I won't have someone to come over and swap new, strange pregnancy discoveries with. You know, saying things like, "Has this happened to you yet? Have you noticed this in the mornings?" Maybe it seems like a silly revelation... but it was another roundhouse kick to the lonely part of my heart. Having those unfiltered, honest conversations about things that are TMI or just plain funny. The feeling of being able to relate on that deeper, long term level is so underrated, isn't it? Making those references to an experience 3 years ago that relate to a reference now is so wonderful. The simple convenience of talking to someone (in your sweatpants and makeup-free face) about how your lives have changed so much since that night you walked barefoot to the Pizza Shuttle from North Ave.

Even at my husband's work, he is the only 'one of his kind.' When we do meet people our own age, they're still dating around. Rarely we find another young, married couple, but their beliefs differ ours entirely. So maybe our situation back in the Midwest was unique...?

Regardless, I guess all I'm saying is, keep your peers close. When you're the only one of your kind in a new city, you will so desperately miss being able to relate to someone familiar. Someone who saw you every day. You'll feel a little remorse for not showing up at their door more often in the past and you'll feel slightly pathetic for missing your peers now. You'll feel the spontaneity and sociable characteristics you once had, drain a little. You'll feel that twinge of loneliness in your heart from time to time.

By God's grace, though, I often see the silver lining. I remember that the opportunities we've come across and people we've met here are incredible. We have a house, year-round beautiful weather, and an amazing location for others to visit. 

So again, do you have peers around you? Have you been, or are in my scenario too? How have you learned to cope? 

And by no means am I ungrateful for the incredible, loving, welcoming friends I have here. They are the ones I talk about admiringly to my family and I look forward to seeing them. They have my back, and I have theirs. There is something unifying about the relationships I've made here and how deep down I feel fiercely connected to them. Like family.

LifeJoy Johnson