Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Community: The Challenges Post College

When I was in college, I was surrounded by a wide variety of people, with a wide variety of interest. I though at that point that I was surrounded with more diversity that any time in my life. And from that wide pool of people, I, like many, made some great friends as I met people who I could connect with who shared certain similarities with myself.

Post-college, much of my social life involved friends from college with some similar interests, passions, hobbies, etc.

Over time, my wife and I married, we made new friends and have kept in touch with the old.

But when we moved away from our college's town, we realized that perhaps we fooled ourselves in to thinking that our liberal arts college was so diverse.

Even though you had business majors and art majors and students from all over the country and the world, there were some major unification points: everyone was pursuing higher education, everyone was relatively the same age, everyone had enough money to at least get a loan from a bank to go to colleg,e and everyone chose to go to school where we were.

Yet now that time has passed we're struck with the reality of how significant those collegiate-similarities are.

In college you're living with different people in tight quarters, primarily coming out of similar experiences with similar connecting points. Even if initial discussions are about previous high-school extra-curriculars (sports, clubs, band, etc.) or you're discussing your past (family, pets, hometown) there is a natural connection point. And sure you're hometown might have been small or big, or your football team was good or bad, then general and initial topics of connection have the potential to be similar.

Establishing community out of college is challenging. My wife and I have had an exceptional opportunities since we've moved to form community with others through finding a church and developing relationships in a small group, but the relational connection points are more challenging then a collegiate setting.

Suddenly you're dealing with married people, single people, people with various educational experiences, goals, and pasts.

Even the desire for relationships is different. Some people long for deep relationships, other for a wide variety of friends, some prefer networking, while others are happy with the relationships they have, or simply don't desire many relationships at all.

While it is sometimes hard to develop meaningful relationships in college, forming deep relationships post-college is an even more challenging thing. My wife and I have been fortunate to begin some relationships with new friends post-college, but even as I talk to other college friends of mine the experience is often challenging.

It's strange. I think we all have an innate need for community and relationships with others, yet its often hard to determine why this is such a challenging need to meet.


AK said...

It's amazing how being married throws so much extra into the mix. It is truly a miracle to find a couple where we both like to be around both the husband and the wife of another couple and also like to be around them individually.

Have we mentioned that we miss you guys SO much? You will never be replaced!

Anonymous said...

In addition to the marriage thing what we run into is the parenting thing. Whther you can connect also depends on what ages your kids are if you have any. And it limits when you can get together and for how long.

Anonymous said...

We have discussed this before. It is hard throughout your whole life to have relationships as an individual or as couples. A lot of times, we meet a couple and really like one half of the couple and can't stand the other (usually the wife...)Then there is the issue that you are in different phases of your life, married, little ones, older children, so you do not always have the ability to socialize the same as you once did. We also find that we will go out of our way to plan things with other people and it is not reciprical, so sometimes it is easier to be be with the one you are with.

Art said...

I feel the same way. Most of the couples we're friendly with attend our church. Outside of that we just don't have that much opportunity for social interaction.

RC said...

@ ak, we miss you guys tons!

@ scott & ma, it's really a bummer to me that the reality of life stages means an even greater struggle to develop relationships.

@ art, i know I'd love more diversity to my social interaction as well beyond church/work relationships. It's a struggle to know how to interact with more people without giving up more time.

nate said...

"It's strange. I think we all have an innate need for community and relationships with others, yet its often hard to determine why this is such a challenging need to meet."

This resonated with me. With four kids, one of whom is pretty sick right now, a demanding job, a dog, and an old house that is falling apart, community is what I crave but can't fulfill--at least the way I think it should be fulfilled.

Stepping back, I am thrilled at my responsibility, and realize at this point in my life, my family is "my community."

I haven't been by here in a regards to you and your wife as you anticipate your first child!