Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Economy stresses friendships as well

This recession is getting to wear on me. Surprisingly, it wasn't the job loss that got to me. You would think that needing to find a job in this economy, with unemployment getting worse by the month, I would completely stress out and apply for any and every job. But it wasn't the case. I enjoyed the summer, got back into trail running and cycling, played with my kids and had coffee with friends.

The worse part has been the effect on friends. Many families have had to decide whether our area is the right place for them, and many times, they have decided to leave. I can't imagine how hard it is to look at the trade-offs - jobs, friends, school and neighbors. I have to remind myself that there's a new set of neighbors on the receiving end, and a community that they may already be familiar with.

I find it already hard to be in a high tech area, as often people are here only for the job or the post-doc appointment. Then, after a few years, they pick up and head back to their hometown or to another city. Such a move is part of their life plan, but it's hard when they become part of your friendship network. And that of your kids.

I want to feel selfish because often they are my friends as well as my kids' friends.  I feel sorry for myself that another friend has moved away - someone to call or find something to do. But it's harder on my kids, as they try to establish personalities and their own network of friends.

Finally there's the overall stress. Many  families are facing reduced salaries, job loss possibilities and other stresses from this downturn. It's not so easy to want to go out and spend some money on a nice dinner or take a lunch hour, when you could be proving your worth at work. We joke about value wines and coupons, but many of us are looking at ways to curb the discretionary spending. However, when we do get together, it is usually potluck which is a great excuse to have all of the kids playing together while the adults can mingle.

I hope that this is over soon, so that the stress is less a part of my life. I think that I'm in an area that experiences change at a higher rate. It's part of the joy of having a diverse group of people - from different cities, cultures and countries. But at the same time, we have to learn to be flexible in our relationships - making new friends and keeping old friends. Even if it's over a distance.

As we tell each other - it just gives us an excuse to see a new city. And a place to stay where we already have friends.