Everyone is leaving me! How I do deal with everyone else moving away and moving on while I'm stuck here?
August 19, 2012 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Everyone is leaving me! How I do deal with everyone else moving away and moving on while I'm stuck here?

A little about me: I graduated from undergrad this spring and have since been living at home and working. I am in the process of applying to grad schools, finding another job, and recently began volunteering somewhere. I live at home with my parents and they are wonderful and supportive, but I feel extremely lonely and isolated a lot of the time--I miss the friends and fun of my college experience. These feelings are made worse by the fact that I was recently dumped and most of my close friends are moving away (3+ hrs).

In the past week and a half I've gone to four going away parties: some friends are leaving the country, some are going off to grad school, and some have new jobs in new cities. My younger friends are also heading back to college, including my ex, with whom I'm trying to stay friends. I am excited for my friends who all seem to be doing what they've always wanted, but I'm jealous that they are starting a new adventure while I am stuck at mom and dad's place in suburbia. I'm also bummed because I don't think visiting those friends at college is a good idea because they are mutual friends of my ex. Avoiding him would be impossible.

Normally when there is a breakup I turn to my inner circle of friends and spend a lot of time with them, but now I'm realizing that 90% of them are gone. I'm making an effort to keep in touch with those who have already left through email, skype, and good old snail mail, and I'm also trying to reach out to friends who I haven't seen or spent much time with recently. But.. I still feel pretty lousy. Despite being very busy with the grad school apps, job apps, working and volunteering, I am still super jealous of everyone who seems to be moving on to the next stage in their life.

I've read up on the advice for avoiding loneliness and making new friends, and I plan to use some of those strategies once my schedule calms down a bit. What are ways that I can avoid this feeling of being left behind? How can I feel better about my situation and find things to look forward to? How can I make this year feel like an adventure instead of a waiting period?
posted by gumtree to Human Relations (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
So, you're applying to grad schools.

Doesn't that mean that you'll be leaving, yourself, in the next year or so?

Can you afford to travel to visit your friends in their new cities? Friends moving away means tons of couch surfing opportunities in new places, and your friends will probably be homesick.

Can you drum up short-term stopgap friends at your job or volunteer situation? It's not the same as your old circle, I know, but you'll be moving on and making new friends yourself in the longer term. Consider this practice for when you show up at grad school and don't know a soul.
posted by Sara C. at 10:06 AM on August 19, 2012

Make a list of all the things you've ever thought sounded fun or interesting to do or learn. Perhaps learning an instrument, or taking art classes, or going to a rock climbing gym. Then start chipping away at that list. Check out your local parks and rec dept and community college for affordable classes. Check out craigslist for lessons. Sign up for groupon/living social for deals on stuff like yoga classes.

I think this is a great opportunity to do some fun new stuff and have some adventures of your own!
posted by imalaowai at 10:09 AM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Keep yourself busy--if your schedule never calms down, you won't have time to feel left behind. Volunteering is great; hopefully you'll be finding a full time job; and to add to that, evening classes in something you've always been interested in (or something that could make you a better applicant for your grad school program) are a good idea.

Photography? Art classes of some kind? Language classes? Community college classes relevant to your grad school goals? A second volunteering gig that would look good on your resume?

A good way to keep social when you only have acquaintances around is to do something that is structured and happens on a regular basis--so you don't have to go through that weird "I don't know so-and-so all that well, can I call him/her again already when we just hand lunch last week?" conversation with yourself. Start or join a book club, or find a couple of old friends/acquaintances and become pub trivia regulars. Trivia has worked really well for this for me because it usually happens weekly, it's relaxed and social but still has structure so there isn't much conversational pressure, and once people start coming they seem to like to continue. A karaoke night or boardgame meetup (boardgame groups are great places to make new friends, also!), or a pickup soccer or ultimate frisbee game would be good, too, or whatever type of weekly activity you and your friends would be interested in. The weekliness is key because it becomes another item on your schedule, working towards the overall goal of keep busy and get out of the house.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:18 AM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's a good thing feeling a bit left at times like that. It helps you focus your mind on making your next adventures happen - which is exactly what you're doing. So, depressing though it sounds, you've got to give all the stuff you're doing a chance to actually produce results. Seriously, you're connecting with a bunch of people who aren't your parents by volunteering and by getting a job. You're making your next adventure happen by applying to grad school. Just be sure to make some time for hobbies, too, stuff that's going to make you feel good about yourself. And before you know it your next fun adventures will begin - it won't take long!
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2012

I got dumped and then all my friends left to do research for the summer (PhD students) or have fantastic world travels. So, I know how much this totally stinks. I'm at the end, since my friends are actually returning, but what I've done for four months can totally be translated to a year.

1.) Threw myself into my job. Looks like you have this covered, plus applying for jobs and schools and volunteering.

2.) Re-read "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Reminded me to be proactive and to not let my circumstances dictate my moods or attitudes.

3.) Made a list of hobbies I had set aside or always wanted to try and started picking away at them. I had more success picking up old hobbies, like knitting and running, rather than starting new ones because it was less of a learning curve and time commitment with my job.

4.) Meetup.com. I joined an outdoors group. It's awesome. I have done bike rides, rock climbing, hiking, kayaking on the weekends. It's lead to meeting some really great people, getting active, and a casual dating situation.

5.) I actively sought to learn to love spending time on my own. I'm an extrovert, kind of at loose ends without other people around to help me recharge, but I've made it a point to not just get to know myself better, but fall in love with myself and love spending time with myself. I'm the only person that will be with me until the end; everyone else might/can/will leave me, either long term or short term, as is the case now! I figured I better really learn to love being with myself and getting in touch with my introverted "side".

My four month
posted by peacrow at 12:15 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry, my computer's on the fritz and posted against my will. As I was saying:

*My four month alone-time really flew by. I'm kind of considering taking more time to myself by cutting way back on socializing because four months didn't seem like long enough once I started to actually enjoy being forced to slow down.
posted by peacrow at 12:19 PM on August 19, 2012

The reality is that this stage is temporary just as your youth that you miss. Your friends are moving to a different stage and they too are experiencing a life change which is presumably a high. We all go through highs and lows and that is important to remember. You, too, go through those stages. I am sure while you were enjoying your friends and fun having your college experience another friend was feeling left out while you were in the "in".

That said, I can only encourage you to focus on your goals and wants. It's hard to remember sometimes but we create our own experiences. We can't tell you what experiences but it's important to open your mind and let yourself dream of things that would make you happy. This is an opportunity for you to really focus on you. Get to know yourself, learn how to cook, make it a goal to write a book, job hunt and research cities where you would like to live, train for a marathon/mini-marathon, make plans for your future, etc. Graduate school is going to be great for you! I also must add, break up's happen. I know very few people who ended up with their college boyfriend/girlfriend. Again, look at this as an opportunity. Soon you will be in a different stage of life. Maybe with a family and children and absolutely zero time to focus on yourself (comparatively). I must confess I actually miss the point in my life where exactly what you are describing happened to me. At the time I didn't realize how free I was and how much opportunity was right in my hands. I eventually learned but it did take a couple of months of self reflection before I began my own adventures, right in my home town and sleeping in my childhood room. :) From there I went across the country and lived a thousand different adventures before finding my way home again.

To sum this up, take a risk. If you really want an adventure, create one.
posted by MyMind at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

From the headline, I wondered your age. Sure enough: you're young. Ha! I knew it! ;)

As you get older, this only gets worse. People die (slowly at first, then it picks up) and move away. Friendships simply fade. People have kids and can't hang out anymore. Etc.

In the larger picture, your favorite bars and restaurants go out of business, your favorite bands break up, your favorite cereal isn't sold anymore, and your collection of skinny ties gets dusty.

You're getting a taste of this erosion a bit early, but I regret to inform you that this is exactly what life will be like for your entire future. Unless.....

.....unless you constantly generate new friendships and make new favorites. Listen to new bands and buy (or make) new clothes. You will never have the luxury of settling into permanent anything. Bit by bit, it all dissolves away, so if you're not replenishing, you will be left feeling bitterly disconnected and wondering where it all went.

All that's required is a bit of energy and enthusiasm, and a positive attitude. Happily, your current age offers you the best shot at all three of those qualities. So develop a healthy habit now, and get to actually enjoy the process of perpetual replenishment, update, renovation, and renewal from this point forward.
posted by Quisp Lover at 2:46 PM on August 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

Eventually, you will just get used to losing most of everyone every few years. My friend circles break up after a couple of years for everyone else but me Moving On, and then I probably go a few without a whole lot of friends...then I acquire more...then they move on in two years... But I live in a college town, so that's life here. When you eventually go on to grad school, you'll Move On too. But in the meantime...it's the meantime. You learn to amuse yourself while you're alone. You learn to have to let people go and regard people being in your life on a daily basis as temporary.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:28 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

How can I make this year feel like an adventure instead of a waiting period?

Thoroughly learn just one thing -- study or practice really hard at that one thing -- so that you become a master of it (or you at least go a long way toward being a master of it). Put in a lot of entire days (8+ hours) doing only that one thing that you want to be great at. This will be the year that you went from being mediocre/average to being very impressive. They say you need 10,000 to become an expert at anything, but you can still cover a lot of territory in one maniacally focused year. And with most things this sort of focus can only be achieved alone, so this is exactly the right time for it. You might never get another chance like this.
posted by pracowity at 6:37 AM on August 20, 2012

Learning to make friends outside of education settings is a Life Skill. Don't wait for someday changes like grad school to make your life better.

I didn't really make any friends in my grad school program. I know that's not a universal experience at all, but grad school is probably almost always different from undergrad. It's harder and more people attend part-time or commute to school for it, more people have more things going on in their lives.
Also, school friends don't tend to last long. Everyone is headed elsewhere in a few years, after the next graduation. And maybe you don't want to go to grad school, maybe. It's not for everyone, even if you're very intellectual and ambitious.

So, work on making friends now. Volunteering is great and so is just generally getting out o of the house. But very little is better than Meetup.com for this exact thing, because that's exactly what Meetup is for. Be persistent about attending events regularly and talk to people. If you meet them twice and have a good conversation, friend them on Facebook. This is how I met my big group of friends. We are all permanent residents in a college town where we are used to having friends who moved away after a few years, but together we are a combined force of salaried homeownership and we regularly trounce all comers at the local trivia night. I know of other circles of friends who met through Meetup as well.
posted by aabbbiee at 3:00 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic advice, and I wish I could mark them all as best answer. I'm going to use this year to focus on myself, and do lots of the things I haven't had the time, opportunity, or motivation to do in the past. I think I'll poke around on Meetup.com once my life calms down a bit, since several of you recommended it. Thanks again everyone!
posted by gumtree at 8:22 PM on August 20, 2012

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