Reflections on Community
I get energy from being around people. I would certainly call myself an extrovert. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy my alone time, but I definitely thrive on relationships. But can I be honest with you for a second?
Life after college is hard.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade the last 10 months for the world. Life has been so good since graduation. I got married. I started my first job. I started writing every day. Life’s been good.
But don’t think for one second that it’s always been easy.
I went to Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. It’s a small Christian college. The campus community is extraordinary. I got used to dorm life — always being around friends. I’d see 3 or 4 friends on my walk to class every day. At chapel, I’d run into so many good friends. I’d see friends in the coffee shop, at the gym and at the local Taco Bell.
I was always around friends.
Life in the “real world” just isn’t like that — and that’s ok. I really enjoy the people I work with. I see some college friends who are still in the area, and I keep up with a few close friends who moved away.
And I absolutely love my wife.
But my community is just plain different now. That’s taken a little while to get used to.
Sometimes I wonder whether I’m really a good friend. Since I go long stretches of time without seeing the people I used to talk to every day, doesn’t that say something bad about me?
No, it doesn’t. But I have those insecure thoughts.
I wonder if I’m really an extrovert or if I’ve just been a masquerading introvert these past 4 years. Talk about imposter syndrome!
I’ve had a lot of personal doubt over the last 10 months. A lot of negative thoughts that jockey for position in my mind. But a few months back, I made a decision.
I wasn’t going to let those thoughts win.
Earlier this week I got lunch with my roommate who I hadn’t seen in months. I texted some other college friends who I hadn’t talked to in a while. It felt great. Taking some steps to reconnect felt so good. Even still though, it’s just not going to be the same.
And that’s ok.
I’ve realized that I need to give myself permission to be in a new situation. I’m not in college anymore. I’m simply not going to be able to stay connected with everyone. I can be intentional about checking in with a few close friends and staying connected as much as possible. But I need to give myself realistic expectations.
One thing I always need to keep in mind is that the most important human relationship in my life is with my wife. That relationship takes precedence.
My main calling for my life in this season is to set a good foundation for our marriage. Most of my time is going to be spent with her.
After that, most of my time will be spent at work. Obviously that means that I need to pour into my professional relationships. My work is another major calling that has been placed on my life, and I need to make sure I’m pouring into my co-workers.
After that, I definitely feel that writing is another calling that has been given to me. I need to make sure that I am cultivating good writing habits.
That doesn’t leave much time, does it?
But that goes back to the beginning of this post — I’m energized by people. Relationships are not just nice add-ons for me. I need close friendships. I thrive on them.
So I do bear some burden to be intentional about checking in with and making time for friendships. But I shouldn’t put all the burden on myself.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you thrive on relationships, but you’re going through a dry season. Let me give you some encouragement.
Take one small step today.
Text someone. Call someone. Write a letter. Say a prayer. Do something.
Even if you feel like you’ve dropped the ball in one certain friendship, it’s never too late to open the lines of communication. All it takes is one small step.
Here’s some more encouragement — it’s not your fault.
You shouldn’t carry all the blame. Friendships should not feel like a burden. They should energize and encourage you. Don’t guilt yourself. Give yourself permission to be.
There were great things about college. I loved it. Like…I really loved it. I had an amazing college experience. But what good is it for me to pine for the past? That’s not helping anyone.
Especially when I realize that pining for the past causes me to miss how amazing the present is.
My wife and I are taking strides in our marriage every day. The things I’m learning in my job and in life in general have helped me grow immensely as a person.
Life has been harder in the last 10 months. There’s been more responsibility and more expectations. But they’ve caused me to grow as a person. That’s a good thing.
One last encouragement — there are good things happening in your life right now. Pour into the people around you. Learn as much as you can from your current experience.
For me, life is very good. It’s not always easy, and it’s not the same as it used to be.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.