People. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. This, according to Barbra Streisand but I believe it to be true, too. It doesn’t matter how old we are, most people feel comforted when in the presence of others.
I was reminded about the importance of this and friendship when recently reading posts in a Facebook group to which I belong. One of the group members wrote that she and a small group of women were looking to meet other women for friendship. I don’t think that the member expected to receive almost 500 responses. Women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70’s wrote to express interest. “I hope I’m not too old for this group” wrote someone in her 70s. “Never too old” was the poster’s response. Eventually, the member split the women into two groups, depending on their geographic location and invited them to attend one of the gatherings.
I’m not sure how many women actually got together, but I hope they got what they were hoping for.
And it’s not just women who value friendship. I haven’t seen any postings by men (maybe because it’s not a social norm for men to reach out to other men for friendship), but my guess is that all genders appreciate the opportunity of getting together with peers.
No more important is this than now. After being isolated for years as a result of Covid, people are mostly back out of their bubbles. For some, old friendships have waned, and for others, friendships have resumed and the desire for social connectedness, rather than distancing, is very apparent.
If you check out Meetup, you can see listings for groups of like-minded people wanting to get together to enjoy an activity, for example. Seniors club and community centres often provide space for pre planned activities, too. Apps and sites such as Nextdoor allow neighbours to introduce themselves to one another, to share the good and bad in their neighbourhood and helps people feel a sense of belonging. Slack, used primarily in business settings, has other uses too. For example, my older daughter, a condo owner in Toronto, created a community on Slack for owners and renters to join. Different channels such as ‘ask a neighbour’, ‘marketplace’ and ‘neighbourhood news’ have encouraged neighbours within the condo building to get to know one another and to feel a sense of belonging. Launched during Covid, it eased their isolation. Now, they also promote in-person get-togethers. Other buildings often schedule bingo nights or day trips to casinos, for example. So, it seems that there are opportunities for friendship and connection. It just requires some effort.
Some of my clients have shared that despite an interest in being social, they sometimes feel reluctant to gather in social environments because they feel less comfortable after being away from them for so long. I understand that this is a real concern, but I believe that after some time of getting together with old friends and involving oneself in organized events, that you will feel a renewed sense of comfort.
And if you’re feeling alone, and wanting to be around people more often, know that you are not alone.