As she finished college and set foot in the real world, Krista found her life falling apart. In her loneliness, she recognized a desire for good friends — the kind who share the stuff of life together. This is the story of how she found them.
I encountered the loneliest season of my life halfway through college.
A two-year relationship had come to an ugly end, and I was coping by drinking recklessly and waking up in strange places. I limped away from the wreckage and into a disaster of a different kind: my parents’ divorce after 20 years of marriage.
All of the collective collateral damage of these crises led me to pack my bags and transfer to a small Catholic liberal arts school close to home.
As the months passed, I tried to piece together a new life in the place where I’d grown up. I graduated, bought a puppy and a house, applied to grad school, and joined a gym. I went to classes and worked as a nanny and a shop-girl. I kept myself busy with work and school and reading novels in bed next to a goofy black and white dog. But no matter how busy I stayed, loneliness sat heavy on my shoulders and I grew weary beneath its weight.
I’d been raised Catholic but now I was doubting God’s existence, let alone His presence. On the rare occasion I showed up for Mass at the church down the street, I’d flip through the bulletin on the way to my car before discarding it on the floor. Always on the top of the third page was a small space detailing the monthly young adult meet-up. I’d see it, consider going and then quickly talk myself out of it. I had better things to do — or at least other things to do. This cycle repeated itself for years (like, three of them) until I started dating the man who is now my husband.
A month or so into our relationship, Jeff and I went to one of those young adult group events, and it was a real challenge. We almost didn’t go back. It seemed like everyone knew each other already and we didn’t fit in. On the drive back to my house, though, we agreed to go back one more time.
So the next month, we went back. It wasn’t drastically easier that time, but something kept drawing us in — it was the promise of community. Each month, we kept showing up.
About six months into this, the group gathered at a winery. The discussion turned to what we wanted from the group going forward.
“I want people,” I chimed in. “I want these to be the people who come over for tacos on a random Tuesday night and know where the water glasses are and help themselves to whatever’s in the fridge. I want these to be the people who show up unannounced and linger on the front porch for hours. I want these to be my people.”
I wanted the types of lasting friendships I’d witnessed and benefited from as I was growing up — friendships my grandparents and parents had nurtured for decades. I wasn’t alone, either. The others in the room nodded their agreement and voiced their own desires.
We discovered that we all wanted to play a significant role in each other’s lives. We had found each other, but it took work. Connecting in a meaningful way with others who share our values doesn’t just happen. We had to step beyond ourselves and reach out. And when we did, we found other people reaching back.
And here we are, two years later. Among the friends we formed in that young adult group, we’ve celebrated four engagements, three weddings, a baby, new jobs, and graduations. We’ve mourned deaths and breakups and job losses. We have walked together through the stuff of life and held one another’s joys and sorrows.
Meaningful adult friendships still exist in this day and age if we’re willing to do the work of seeking and sustaining them. Your village is within reach — they’re just waiting for you to show up.