Where Are My People At?

Jan 25, 2023 by Amber McClain Shaw, in Blog Posts
When the kids were younger we knew where to find each other. Carpool, volunteering at school, the sidelines of all kinds of sports or at one of the kid-friendly restaurants in the area. When my boys were in high school and more independent, it got a little harder.

Released from driving children around once they got their driver’s licenses, we mostly found each other at things related to their school and their sports.

But now that they are off to college and beyond, and we no longer have a connection through our children, how do we find each other?

Now that, in theory, we have more time for ourselves and our own interests, I’m wondering where everyone went.

With the pandemic having less effect on daily life, this has become an interesting question for me to ponder. I joined a running crew last year, and the vast majority of members are younger—mostly significantly younger—than I am. It’s mostly a millennial group, which is fine, it’s fun to meet some new people, I enjoy the crew a lot and I’m welcomed with enthusiasm. One of my favorite runner friends from the crew is a guy who is my son’s age. But there are very few people with whom I can share the challenges of being a female runner in their 50s. I started taking some aqua fitness classes at the gym, and this group consists of people far older than I am. They share stories of grandchildren, illnesses and going on cruises. They make lots of limp pool noodle jokes. Not quite my people either. I feel a little bit like Goldilocks looking for just the right thing.

I am not at all sure what my peers are doing these days. We have less to do for our families and have more free time. And yet I don’t see people my age joining run crews or going to the Y.

I don’t have built-in friends and a community related to work. My job is flexible and mostly solitary. I am my own boss and I am not locked into the traditional Monday-to-Friday 8-to-6 schedule. My business has unique demands, often on weekends, and does not offer much in the way of social interaction or community. I have to create that myself.

Are my peers spending their 50s working longer hours at their job? Are they staying home and watching TV? Are they traveling? Drinking at bars? Expanding or renovating their empty-nest homes? Caring for aging parents? Moving to another area? Yes, it seems they are doing all of these things.

In the all-consuming time of working and raising young children, I don’t remember any of my peers saying that when they finally had a little more time for themselves, they wanted to . . . spend more time at work.

It’s hard work to make friends at this age. I haven’t cracked the code, but I’m working on it. Following the advice from a recent writer’s workshop, I will say yes to new things, and I will do things I enjoy. Maybe the secret is to be a part of several different communities. I'm not sure but I'm trying to figure it out.