I’ve gone through chapters in life where I’ve felt very isolated. Grad school has been one of these - although my cohort was made up of friendly people, I was in a strange town in an unfamiliar part of the country, far from family and friends. My schedule and workload made it hard to have a social life - and, to be honest, in retrospect I can see that I made some poor choices there. I had opportunities to be social, but I always used the excuse that I “had to work.”
In my new town, and my new job, I’m taking a different approach - I’m realizing that taking an hour or two, here or there, to enjoy myself is not going to make a huge dent in my workload. I might have spent that hour watching TV, instead of working on my dissertation, but now I’m choosing to spend it having lunch with a coworker, going to a flea market with colleagues, or even - this past weekend - donning a costume and going to a Halloween party. I haven’t done that in years.
There was a time in my life when I was very social, had lots of friends, and went out all the time. Then came grad school, when I enforced some weird kind of exile on myself (I think it was a martyr thing - see how hard I work?) Now, I can sense the pendulum is swinging back the other way, and I long to be with people again.
This is typical of me: I go through phases. I’ve learned not to beat myself up for it. Perhaps this is how we experiment with life, trying on different identities: the social butterfly, the recluse. We don’t have to be the same person all the time; we change and we grow. We reflect, keep some things, and discard others.
I’m in a “people” stage at the moment, and I’m enjoying myself.