As I was driving and listening to a NPR program, I caught just a snippet of the conversation on the lack of socialization by older residents in a retirement community. I was struck by someone saying that when it was suggested that making new friends would be easy with all the residents and activities, the response was “I am too old to make a new best friend” Or maybe it was too old to make an old friend. Sad, but somehow very sincere in this person’s view. Why do we ‘shy away’ or just plain avoid trying to build new relationships as we get older?
Not being a natural extrovert, I sometimes feel like that old Sesame Street segment. The one where you try to sort of out which shape that is not the same as the others. I was the too tall, too shy kid that had to move to a new school at the age of 12. Our past carries forward much than we would like to admit. Have some of us at our ‘advanced’ age, just given up on any semblance of trying to find new friends? Our old posse is our forever posse?
Despite all the hype about the boomer generation, the truth is that as individual members of our generation, we may feel we are more unique and do not match the norm- whatever that is. We have so many slots so to speak in which to divide ourselves. In this crucible of an election year there is politics, bumper stickers, yard signs and all. There are religious beliefs or lack thereof, income levels, martial status, and work status. Some of us Tweet, Instant message and Facebook, others do not. Food habits and exercise or lack there of can be a dividing point, as in I can not have you over for dinner, what do you serve a vegetarian? Hobbies should be a melding point, but not always due to competency levels.
Shouldn’t I assume when I meet with new people that there has to be at least something we have in common? Is it the longer time we live that gives us more reasons not to have anything to do with someone else? I recently signed up for a meetup in my new home area, one especially for boomer women. So many people signed up that just meeting at someone ‘s house became impractical. My first thought was even if you find a space big enough, how do you get 50 women together and see who ‘clicks’ with the other. Then I admonished myself for already creating a speed befriending scenario.
We do not have decades to build up the labyrinth of knowledge and sharing our joys and forgiving our faults that old friends afford us. We should certainly try and be open to starting from scratch to build a new bond even over something simple but shared.