Life in Germany or midde age? In truth, I can remember back to many years where I felt I did not even normally need to worry about ‘social exclusion’ because I ‘never was in, nor was I in any immediate risk of’ being severely socially isolated. Since moving to Germany at age 42, I have spent more time ‘by myself’ than I have during all of my life up to 2010. Luckily, I am not alone all the time, and I have always felt that I have needed about 4 hours per 24 hour time period ‘on my own’ or ‘by myself’. There have been years when it was hard to get that much time-space. Since moving to Germany, I have really had the opposite problem.
Now, there are also age related issues. Most middle aged and older people found that it became more challenging for some reason, once more mature to be socially included as often and as easily as one wishes. However, part of that is an illusion. Much of the inclusion that occurs during youth has to do with being given no choice and relying on social systems which seem natural to a child but really are manmade social structures that are anything but spontaneous to adults. I think part of ‘the issue’ are the emotions associated with that change in awareness. As many women have said for a century: “I might like to get a job just to be socially included.” Some kids might say, “You mean I only met people because I went to school?” Everyone learns to socialize.
Part of what gives me hope also makes the situation somewhat mentally painful whenever I have had a tough time socially. Many times in my life, at various ages, I had no problem socializing at all. I made my first friend outside the family as a 2 year old, you know…I am not socially devoid of normal skills. I don’t expect everyone and their Aunt Martha to like me, although it would be OK if they do…Last time I checked I had committed any serious felonies or anything like that that typically brands people as ‘to be avoided’. It is definitely true that only speaking the native language somewhat makes it way harder. It is also true that all the extroverts can clap their hands together and say: See, another introvert rots in a self created Hell! because I haven’t socialized so much that I feel like a whore even though I didn’t have sex or even snog. I am not an extreme introvert at all, but have had the lifestyle of one for …this is the 3rd year of this actually. There has been some relief, people who have kept in touch notice that I’m actually still whining about 1) not having a boyfriend or new husband, 2) social challenges and 3) I probably want more money. Luckily, my first language is the 2nd language most spoken around here, making it easier.
In truth, I only lived ‘by myself’ for 4 months once before the age of 37 years of age and quite frankly I had intended to not ever live alone. Luckily, since my son does live with me 50% of the time [half custody deal] it isn’t ‘just me’ all the time, but the idea was that there would be at least 3 of us living together and 2 would be adults and not someone else who I have given birth to, maybe a husband even though that is “traditional and not the way I grew up”.
Living as a foreigner is a bit odd, in itself. It is sort of fun. It is sort of just hard and a drag. However, in this case, if it weren’t for the fact that my son isn’t really a foreigner in this country, we wouldn’t be living here. Germany is quite all right in many ways. I am not surprised that in some ways I like it and in other ways I really don’t. Some of it actually is the social nature of the nation. However, a bit of it is the town and a bit of it probably is ‘me’ and the rest of it is just…I don’t know. I think there is ‘what I need to be happy here’ but the trouble is that I am not accessing it all properly so that I am still seeking to return to a condition where being happy is my standard of normal. Fortunately, I think ‘the worst’ has passed and I am a bit less miserable but mostly I just stopped complaining after the first year even though it only got slightly better since then so far. My son has heard me whine more than everyone else.
Unlike other periods of my life in which I ended up lonely for way too long or much too mentally and emotionally painfully – it usually followed having been jilted by someone I had agreed to stay attached to for decades…only to get dumped soon thereafter anyways…Not exactly happily ever after there…fortunately they came to an end…up until the difficulty of the years in Germany the worst had only lasted 12 months or fewer before…and solutions ranged from a sibling or a boy or girl who lived next door playing with me for an hour or two to a romance lasting years and friendships some lasting days, some months others years…Unlike back then, however, while living in Germany I have spent more time online by far than I ever had before in my life. Sometimes I think it is a lame excuse for trying to have any semblance of a social life long distance and other times I feel as though it works. A few contacts are even also local – which is more how the young people use it, I have heard…but it made it so that I have seen and heard at least now and then little snippets about people who I have known during other phases of my life…including people who I had thought cared so much that I have to be able to include them in order to have a real wedding rather than an elopement style of wedding – I have only had the elopement style so far…but when one finds one’s old friends and gets the impression that they aren’t glad and haven’t cared much for more than ten years one has to question why I had felt I would have needed their presence to have a ‘real as in standard’ wedding service versus a ‘real but elopement style’ wedding service. Creepy.