Having friends has been important at every stage in my life, but especially in retirement. I recall this song from my childhood that I think makes even more sense to me today Make New Friends, But Keep the Old, Visiting an old friend from West Virginia yesterday felt so good. We raised our children together, survived losing our husbands together, and now enjoy our grandchildren together. We are bonded forever; even if we only see each other once a year, we pick right up where we left off.
Being friends is easy at this stage. We know each others’ families, have common friends, been to all the same places, and share a lot of things in common - like wearing a comfortable pair of old shoes. But, retirement changes the landscape. Finally, there is time to participate fully in activities that have been impossible until now - golf, travel, sports, dining, crafts, photography, writing - whatever looks to be fun. Maybe old friends or sometimes relatives are available to accompany us, maybe not. Do we dare go it alone?
I recall my mother-in-law and my grandmother complaining as they grew older that all their friends were gone. They had us, the family, but still felt like something was missing. Because they were primarily homemakers (and wonderful at it), they did not develop outside interests and friends beyond the neighborhood. They did not belong to any club or groups; they did not play cards or exercise. Never having ventured out of their comfort zone on their own, when they had to relinquish the housework to others, they did not know what to do with themselves.
So, the lesson here is keep making new friends all your life. Venture out. Fearful? Great! Do something every day that scares you. (Quote may be from Eleanor Roosevelt, can't be proven, but it is a good one!) Try something new - something on your own. Be open to developing a closer friendship with someone you meet in your regular day to day out of the house activities. Be brave and interact with people of various color, culture, and class. Be aware of attraction and chemistry that sparks when you meet someone. Share your business card (Yes, you are in the business of being retired!) to invite the friendship to blossom or better yet, put their contact information right into your phone. Connect on Facebook - a great place to get to know a new acquaintance better. Be an up to date retiree! The song, Make New Friends, But Keep the Old, was sung as a round for a reason, and it usually went on and on, because this is one job that is never done.
Advice whether or not you ask: Make seeking new friends part of your retirement job description.