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Retirement often has the effect of separating us from the community we know or that we have spent a lifetime building. The community we once had may no longer be in our lives, for whatever reason. And, as we age, many people experience a lessening desire to get out and meet people. If this is something you've experienced, you're not alone. You're also not alone in the feelings of loneliness and the awkward feeling that comes along with the realization that you need to find some friends. This can be a difficult proposition for some.
With that said, retirement can also be a time when we finally begin to take on new roles that our careers and families previously pushed to the backburner. There are some really fun and easy ways to find community at any age. For many, retirement presents an opportunity to spend time how you have always wanted. If you're looking to make new friends and find new communities now that you are retired, consider the following ideas!
Try These Places to Find Friends in Retirement
Volunteering is a great way to build community. It can also have a profound impact on giving one a sense of purpose. In a society that values a competitive work structure, retirement can wreak havoc on one's sense of belonging and self-worth. Getting out there and volunteering not only in soup kitchens or homeless shelters, but Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Club and other afterschool programs, or even as a polling station attendant are all excellent ways to stay active and vital. There are many volunteering activities that allow one to utilize the skills they acquired during their career. By engaging in activities that interest you, the chances are far more likely that you will find people with similar interests who may or may not be the same age.
Read our post - 10 Great Volunteer Opportunities To Try in Retirement!
Joining a Club or League
In any community, there are many active clubs and/or leagues that one can join. A bowling league, golf, disc golf, squash, badminton, billiards, pickleball, or tennis league are all wonderful examples of sports leagues that are typical in your area. By joining a league that allows you to be competitive, you can also retain those feelings of vitality and purpose. Individual sports that focus on technique over raw strength and athletic ability are great for people in their retirement years. Decades of athleticism and training will help you stay competitive in these sports, even amongst much younger competitors.
There are also many active clubs for retirees. The Elks Club, VFW, or GFWC are wonderful national organizations that can help connect you with others with similar interests. Your involvement in these organizations is often based on your available time and interest level. However, if giant national organizations aren't really for you, you may also consider joining a book club. Book clubs are a fantastic way to meet others and have fascinating conversations. They are also a great way to stay current on things happening in the world and connected to the cultural moment.
Book clubs often introduce newer books and offer members the opportunity to engage with unfamiliar topics and have more educated discussions.
Writing circles are another great way to get connected and start writing that novel you've always dreamed of writing. As a person who enjoys writing, it can be difficult to find peers. Joining a writing circle is something you can do at any age, and it's something that will help remind you that you are, in fact, part of a community and have more to offer.
Guiding the Next Generation
As a societal elder, you have accumulated decades worth of wisdom. Now, what to do with that wisdom in retirement? Does anyone even care what you think anymore? Of course, they do!
You are an important member of your community, and you can remind people of this by being present in the lives of others. There are many organizations in your area that can connect you with mentoring opportunities. Opportunities such as these may be offered through your past employer or school. You could mentor someone in a similar position, or they may come in the form of educational mentoring for young people. There are also many coaching opportunities for youth sports. Your experience makes you a vital member of any community. Share it.
However you come to it, and whatever form it takes, mentoring is extremely rewarding. You will meet and engage with people of all ages and, in many respects, share in the accomplishments of those you mentor.
Gyms have long been a wonderful place to meet and interact with others. You might be experienced or new to personal fitness. In either case, looking for fitness classes is a great idea. If you're looking to meet people and, perhaps, find some level of accountability, joining a fitness class is a great way to build relationships with others who can help keep you motivated. Fitness classes are also a great way to shake things up and pull you out of your comfort zone. You may also learn a new skill that can help you continue personal growth throughout your retirement years.
I know, I know. You're saying, "I just retired. Why do I want to go back to work?" However, if you'll allow, a part-time job in your retirement is a fabulous way to find new relationships and build community. As previously stated, retirement can bring on feelings of infirmity or purposelessness. Besides, now is the time to find a job you truly enjoy. Get paid to do a hobby of yours or discover a new passion. Taking on a new role is a way to regain some vitality and share your experiences with others.
Retirement and aging don't mean you have to live a life of boredom and isolation. In fact, this phase of life can be an incredible opportunity to spend your time in meaningful and social ways. Volunteering to build houses for young, needy families was always something you wanted to do, and now, you finally have time. You've lived an interesting life and feel that your memoir could help others. Joining a writing circle could help you put things together in new ways. Coaching your granddaughter's peewee soccer team could help keep you in her life and help you build community with others in the league. Picking up a new sport that isn't so hard on the knees will allow you to keep those competitive juices flowing for years to come.