On Being A Loner

17 03 2012

I’ve always been a free spirit and have done my own thing whether or not the people around me were interested in joining.  Volunteer for the afternoon and then go to a dance class solo?  Alright.  Spend a summer doing film in Toronto far away from anyone I know?  Sure.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have friends, but I was rarely interested in compromising my independence for group dynamics and so for most of my life I had different groups of friends that reflected my different interests.  This provided me with flexibility and allowed me to connect with the part of individuals that I most appreciated.  However, this also meant that – with the exception of a chevreh (social circle) in high school – I was not exclusively or definitively part of any one group.

Last night, I spent a half hour on Facebook and saw:

  • Two married couples from my high school grade, sitting and smiling while their children played together
  • Two friend-acquaintances from my Indian dance team in college, beaming as one asked the other to be her bridesmaid
  • Four social action-oriented college friends whom I respect and spent a lot of time with, posting on each other’s walls and staying close despite the 4-5 years that have passed since graduation
We recently flew back to New York for my friend Batya's wedding

We recently flew back to New York for my friend Batya's wedding

Now that I am reflecting on this subject, I don’t think that I am actually a loner, but my penchant for independence, varied interests and now travel keep me from being able to immerse myself in any one group.

It would be nice to find a rockin’ good-doing, adventure-spirited, crazy fun group of friends one day wherever we end up, but meanwhile I’ll view this as a call to action to better keep in touch with those gems of individual friends that I have made along the way.

posted by ayo

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18 responses

18 03 2012
Carol J Kerr

You sound a great deal like me… Not so much a loner, just drawn to different groups/folks for different reasons. I go through phases of keeping in touch with my dear friends and then “falling off the face of the earth” so to speak. Thankfully my friends are understanding of this and we pick back up where we were after a bit of catching up!

19 03 2012
ayo

Lucky you and lucky friends! 🙂

18 03 2012
momopps

Your post was honest and poignant. We sometimes forget that life goes on for others while we are choosing to live our own lives far away-but it does. And it can be jarring to see it when you have been away from it for awhile. You can work at staying in touch as you concluded and you should as you are a great friend with a big heart. And you should be blessed with a virtual community of friends and also one day a real ( jewish!) ( israeli!!) community as well 😉 amen!

21 03 2012
ayo

Amen amen. Speaking of old friends, have the best time ever at Dovid’s wedding!!!

25 03 2012
kayakdov

I’m rootin’ for you guys to find an Israli community as well.

26 03 2012
ayo

Dov, I’ve actually been thinking about that lately.

What Israeli communities are crunchy/funky/weird in a good way? Like environmentally friendly, artsy, hippie, progressive, etc.

27 03 2012
kayakdov

Hmmm … I live in Bnei Braq right now. It might be described as crunchy/funky/weird in a bad way. In fact, the thought of local crunchiness kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I’m actually not qualified to answer the question, on the grounds of not being cool enough. I have a friend who is and lives in Metulah. I’ll pass your question on to her, and get back to you.

27 03 2012
ayo

Cool stuff. And what in the world are you doing in Bnei Brak?!

19 03 2012
Food for Thought

I think your conclusion of finding a group of crazy awesome adventurers wouldn’t work in terms of “having a group” because all your other groups have a uniting factor, whereas this one doesn’t unite…the thing about crazy awesome adventurers is that they’re just like you in terms of level of independence and penchant for embracing opportunities regardless of whether their friends come with them. For that reason, you guys would have to have exactly the same ideas of adventure, or you’d always be off doing your own thing provided the other party wasn’t into that sort of adventure or preferred another.

21 03 2012
ayo

Or we’d invite each other along and bond through shared adventures! But I hear your point.

21 03 2012
Anonymous

Me too! In high school I was friends with all the groups
– accepted by the girly-girl group because of my love for fashion
– accepted by the fun group, because well duh, my love for fun
– accepted by the frum group, because of a sincere desire to understand why we lived the life we did and wanting to better myself
– accepted by the rebellious/different group because of my refusal to accept authority just on their word

And I went to three schools without knowing a soul there, totally nervous but excited to meet new people, same with camps – going to places where I knew no one. But while I was accepted in all the cliques (something I prided myself on) I never quite belonged to a single clique either.

21 03 2012
ayo

And do you still find that to be the case, of never belonging to a single clique?

2 04 2012
Susie

This was a very interesting and honest post.
Although I also had a very tight-knit group in high school, since then I also found that I prefer bouncing around and hanging out with different people to suit my different moods and interests. Of course, that does make staying in touch hard, since I didn’t wind up becoming attached to many people.

Obviously it’s easier for me than you because I still visit NYC and Teaneck often enough to keep up old relationships, but even still, it’s all about priorities. There are only 2 people from college who I still make an effort to see somewhat regularly (well, plus my husband and sister, I guess), only 2 to 3 people from Pardes, and I can already predict that I will only be making an effort to keep in touch with one person from Cardozo after I graduate.

It’s hard to find a balance between your past life and your present life. On the one hand, you want to treasure your old friends, and on the other hand, you want to live in the moment and enjoy where you are in life. Mike and I have lots of wonderful new friends in our present life in Philly, and they just add to the mix of relationships that we have accumulated. Will we stay in touch with all of these new friends forever? No way. But that’s okay.

At least you and I can be grateful that the Jewish world brings us so many weddings, which always wind up being amazing friend-reunions — that definitely helps me, at least.

PS, next time you are in Teaneck/Leonia area, you should really visit Abby and hang out with her kids. They are just the most delightful people. Obviously I’m biased as their aunt, but I am telling you, they are just the most adorable munchkins. They are pretty much #1 in my list of priorities, but again, I am biased.
(also, if you ever find yourself in Philly, give me and Mike and holler!)

22 05 2012
ayo

Wow, thanks for sharing, Susie. Good thoughts.

2 04 2012
Susie

One more thing. Even if you never belong to “cliques” anymore, you will always have Yair, and he is your ultimate clique now. He is there to make new random friends with you and listen to all of your solo adventures, and he will always be there to reminisce about your crazy experiences.

Even if you cant stay in touch with everyone, having that one stable person is really amazing. Maybe I’m just thinking this way because I’m still in that first-year-of-marriage glow, but I dont know, I find it reassuring for myself.

22 05 2012
ayo

You’re right. And I’m long past my first-year glow. Seven years in, it’s still amazing!

2 04 2012
Susie

ONE MORE COMMENT! Last one, I promise. I have noticed that cliques are not always so bright and sunny – they often get filled with so much drama, and that’s one reason I try not to get sucked into them. For instance, in the upper west side, Mike and Laura and I are associated with a very tight-knit clique of maybe 12 or so people. We are most definitely not in the clique, but we hang out with them occasionally – we come and go, maybe show up to their parties, hang out with a few of them individually. I noticed that their clique is sort of unhealthy. For instance, when one of them throws a shabbos meal, if they aren’t ALL invited, they actually get insulted. (My friend in the group really hates that, because she likes throwing small meals, and the dynamics in the group make it impossible to do so.) There is also a lot of hidden drama within the group, including hookups and semi-dating and whatnot, and it’s pretty hilarious for us to watch, but probably not as fun to be in the midst of. Meanwhile, when I lived in NYC we would get invited to their meals once in awhile, which was nice, and when we threw meals, we could pick our favorite people in the clique to invite, and no one got insulted at all. Being on the rims of cliques is the best way to reap the benefits without being subject to the drama and guilt.

I really hope no one from that clique reads this blog.

22 05 2012
ayo

Me, too. Haha.

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