I went to high school in a fairly conservative, extremely white area. Exhibit A: A member of the Gay-Straight Alliance was spat on by a parent at Back to School night for handing out flyers. Exhibit B: I caused an uproar (included accusations that I was “racist”) when I wrote an article in my school paper about the lack of diversity at school and how it impacted minority students.
In many ways, I am used to living among whiteness and conservatism.
And then I went to college and spent four years learning about leftism and organizing and how my feminism was incomplete without a race and class analysis. I met people who shared a similar vision for the future. And then I graduated, moved home and then moved to DC, all in the span of 6 months.
2018 was a rough year and I got to DC, with a job I was thrilled about, and after living in suburban New Jersey for several months, I was ready to throw myself back in the fold of friendship. And these friendships have been wonderful – most old but some new. Many that have changed and gotten closer with the new proximity to each other. Relationships that I am deeply grateful for.
But as I hit the year mark in DC, I started to feel like something was wrong. Something was missing. Funnily enough, it took a mini high school reunion at my parent’s Christmas party to figure out what was wrong.
I don’t have a single close friend in DC who shares my beliefs.
When I first moved here, I tried. I went to a few DSA meetings but didn’t find them super welcoming. I tried to get in touch with PSL a few times and didn’t succeed and ultimately gave up (but have recently succeeded woo hoo!). Let’s be real: I had a ready made friend group and was living in a new city where happy hour was legal (looking @ you Boston) and just wanted to enjoy myself.
Recently, I did a bunch of reading about Christian socialism and I wanted to go to a dive bar and spend a few hours talking to a friend about the relationship between faith and social justice and how apparently, there’s evidence that early Christians lived in communist societies. But I don’t anyone that would have been interested. So instead I called my mom and told her all about it. There’s a protest at the White House tomorrow about the US’s further involvement in Iraq and the potential war with Iran. Protests/large crowds make me extremely anxious and as much I want to go, I don’t know if it’s something I can do alone.
“Alone” is a good word for how this situation has made me feel. As fulfilling as my friendships are, my central friend group is all white, and without a single other person that shares my beliefs.
This might be my privilege talking, because my economic background and education and “good immigrant” status allow me to move semi-comfortably in primarily white, privileged circles. This isn’t the fault or responsibility of my friends. It’s 100% the result of my own decision making and complacency.
I’m realizing that feeling lonely can look like a lot of things. That you can be lonely for physical touch, be lonely for people who share your faith, be lonely for people who understand you.
Call me a snowflake but I’m lonely for a safe community where I can share my thoughts and ideas in a way that doesn’t have to end with an argument. Where I can question my beliefs without constantly feeling like I have to defend them.
If I had to wish for one thing in 2020, I would wish that I find those people and that I hold on to them.