What Does A Peer Mean to You? Making New Friends While Traveling
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO- I’ve spent the past two years constantly moving around the globe, and now the country. It’s meant constant immersion in new communities, with new opportunities to make friends and establish a new life for yourself. I’ve made some of my dearest friends in this time, but in the end it can become tiring. It can become tiring to move somewhere completely new, and have no one to catch up with at happy hour, or have a few drinks on your night off.
Making friends can be a tedious process. You need to find like-minded individuals who enjoy spending their free time doing the same things as you. It was easy in high school, in college—there were scores of peers right there, doing the same things as you. We play baseball together? Great, we’re friends. Simple as that. See you on Monday.
But when you find yourself in a situation knowing no one, it’s not as easy to find these like-minded people. It takes time—you need to cross paths with them, and both be in the mood to have a meaningful conversation. That meaningful conversation needs to be considered such mutually, and then you need to find something else to do together. It can, at times, detract from you doing what you actually want to do.
Oftentimes when you find yourself in a traveling situation, the social scene is set for you. If you’re staying at a hostel, people are hanging out in the common room, and you hang out in the common room. You do you at a different time, and what you want to accomplish is put to the side, because your schedule is dictated by the social schedule of the others around you.
Here in Steamboat, I’m going to try to do things a bit differently. I’m fortunate enough to live with two awesome individuals, Mattie and Paul, so I have peers that I can come home and talk to. Perhaps that makes things easier. But I’m making a concerted effort to prioritize the things I want to do over making new friends. It seems insane—isn’t the reason you travel to meet new people? Yes, of course. But that doesn’t mean that the goals of my week should be affected by what others are doing, particularly when there’s a small chance you’ll talk to them after your paths diverge.
I’m more comfortable coming out of a place I lived making one or two close friends, friends who I’m comfortable calling up out of the blue and sleeping on their couch, no questions asked. I’d rather establish these meaningful relationships than have a slew of tenuous connections with people I have a few things in common with.
On Thursday from 12-2, there is a writer’s group that meets in the Art Depot. I’ve gone a few times, read some of my work, and had it critiqued. It’s a stimulating environment to be in, because I’m surrounded by people that have the same pull to express the human experience with the written word and thrive on having a loosely structured environment around which they can work. Did I mention that I’m the youngest person there, by at least two generations?
It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any peers at the writer’s group, because as we all grow older the very definition of “peer” changes. Peer no longer means another 27-year-old white guy that went to college; peer means someone that has the same personal and professional inclinations as yourself. It’s not an easy thing to do—to simply pursue your own interests, and let the relationships forge later—but I’m fortunate enough to have a large network of friends, family, and loved ones. And I’m more and more comfortable redefining what it means to be a peer with each passing day.