I follow a couple of various career forums – Fishbowl, Blind, and CSCareerquestions. I’ve been seeing a bunch of people ask similar questions – typically, new grads who’ve moved for a job are lonely and looking for social outlets – Since they’re new to the area, they don’t know anyone, and unlike their hometown or college, they don’t have a built in system for meeting people outside of work. Their hometown naturally having a bunch of longtime neighbors or friends from school, and from college the people they met in classes or clubs or what have you. These weren’t communities they had to go out of their way to build out – it was a naturally occurring part of their ecosystem. In a sense, these communities were built as a part of an unconscious routine.
How much of our lives are dictated by unconscious habits? Pretty much most of it – on a day to day basis, I get up, brush my teeth, shower, go to work, get lunch, go home, eat dinner, veg out on my computer, and go to sleep. Pretty normal routine for many people I’d imagine – add in recreational activities, exercise, some socialization on the weekends, and you have an average American single. Obviously the lifestyle will vary for people with kids, but they still have a general rhythm to their lives. But they don’t have to be this way.
Everyone naturally has a certain amount of agency in their own lives (or so the theory goes), so why do we fall into these unconscious rhythms? Well, probably because they work. We’re surviving on a day to day basis – if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Having said that, sometimes people aren’t actually able to stomach their current situation and it becomes untenable. Going back to my post about incorporating retrospectives, there can be real benefit to reevaluating your natural routines and determining if they need some tweaking, or total excision from your life. You might find you want to add things as well.
In more concrete terms, what are these habits I’m referring to? Think of your friend groups – the people you hang out with regularly. Are they people who’ve kind of worked their way in your lives through happenstance? Are you still friends with these people out of circumstance, or do you genuinely like spending time with them now? Maybe you’re stuck in a rut and don’t have other friends, so you’re afraid to lose the only network you have, even if you’re not really having a good time any more in the relationship. But you have the ability to look for new friend groups and new communities. You can join a sport, a club, or a hobby. The difference between doing so in college and doing post college is the external nature of it – In college, these things all exist somewhere in your peripheral. Social organizations like frats, clubs, and sports are all part of the college ecosystem. It’s therefore not as much of a cost to break out of your daily rhythm to join these things, compared to post college life – every activity or group you attempt to join is entirely out of the purview of your current daily life. You need to go out of your way to attend these things, because they’re not tied into your work or your routine.