RETIREMENT NOTE #4: FRIENDS
“A Friend is a person whom one knows well and is fond of. A person on the same side of a struggle, one who is not an enemy or foe.”Webster Dictionary
It had only been a few months since we retired and moved from Seattle to the Desert. I was still finding my way in the new role of retiree. To my amazement, my long standing friends back in Seattle were slowly drifting away. Guys who had always been part of my life, played golf together and done business with were no longer close. It bothered me for a long time until I settled on a new concept of who friends really are.
The very nature of friendship is a fluid one, based in large part on circumstances and location. You are most likely to have friends in the same school, workplace, club or places where you live. The question is are they long term friends or just acquaintances.
Retirement will test this, especially if you move to a new location. I understand now that this is a natural process and not all bad.
Friends can unintentionally hold you back. For years, you have probably traveled in the same social circles. These circles can be limiting in retirement. You have to ask yourself if you want to go to the same clubs, events, travel locations and be around the same group of people all the time.
You have a certain image with the group. Does it still fit who you want to become in retirement? Can your new retirement budget handle the costs of belonging to the same social circle?
You may not want any changes in your life and that is great. However, if you do, it is important to realize that not all you friends may fit anymore. Additionally, they may not understand the changes you make.
Moving away to a new location automatically breaks the social circle you have been traveling in. Be prepared that some of your old friends, even your best ones, may feel betrayed by your move. It will take them time to work through this. The good ones, though, will reconnect.
You will pleasantly find that other retired people are very open to making new acquaintances and friendships. As you expand your activities, you will find people who only care about you as a person. Little attention is paid to your past accomplishments or status in life.
The transition with friends may alter your concept of friends all together. Even the definition of friends in the dictionary is a loose one. There is no mention of a long term relationship. The definition includes being “on the same side of a struggle” as an important point. Also the reference to a “person you are fond of” is worthy of thought. In retirement, you will become jealous of the precious time you have left. You may not want to devote the time to develop close friendships. Substituting instead, an array of valued acquaintances. A new form of friendship.
Finding these new friendships rests on your ability to get along with all people. Meeting and developing new acquaintances can greatly help in this regard and is important to your life.
You could be in an auto accident and end up being cared for by hospital staff far away from home or be in some disaster depending on emergency workers. Making these people your “situational friends” is key to your survival. That rests on the honed skill to get along and respect others.
Indeed this goes for all you encounters. You never know what fate will throw at you. Besides, the world needs those who are willing to reach out to new acquaintances and friends. It enriches life experiences and leads to new thinking.
Most importantly, remember that your spouse or partner is also your best friend. They are your confidant, sounding board and guardrails to help you through what sometimes is the “fog of retirement transition.” Keeping full and warm communication with them affords a wonderful foundation to enjoy the best of your retirement years.
Tomorrow is new day, a good day to practice making new acquaintance friends.
“A true friend is who gives you total freedom to become yourself.” Jim Morrison