Why You Need An Active Social Life
After the year we just had it’s time to start paying attention to our social life. It’s time to prepare for a new and better normal than your pre-pandemic life.
Humans are designed to be social. We are created with the ability to communicate verbally and non-verbally making it easier to share ideas and be in the community. Humans have lived in groups from the beginning and rely on one another to live interdependently rather than alone. Humans have the ability to be sensitive, funny, caring, and nurturing. These traits lend themselves to being social. In essence, humans are made to be social.
Not everyone has the same desire or capacity for socialization, but everyone regardless of the number of their social preferences has the desire to feel wanted and accepted by a group. Even people designated as loners need some form of community.
What is a social life?
Social life consists of our personal preferences for community and how we engage others socially. Our social life includes, but isn’t limited to
- How we recreate
- Who are friends are
- What group activities we participate in
- How we engage with our community
Our social life is generally a reflection of our personal interests at any given time and how we express ourselves through recreation or engagement with others. Our social life isn’t limited to what we do for fun though. It can also include-
- How we volunteer
- Time spent with colleagues or peers
- Giving back in our communities
Our social life includes the people in our sphere of influence we engage with and how they impact our sense of belonging.
Why do you need a social life?
Everyone needs social engagement. Even the shyest, introverted or socially resistant people do enjoy socializing, though generally in limited quantities with small groups of people. Being social isn’t about parties and light-hearted engagements. Being social includes doing life with others to-
- Solve problems
- Share work
- Stay mentally acute
- Share ideas
- Feel connected
A healthy social life transfers to a healthy mind and body because being social can help prevent physical and mental illnesses. As a matter of fact, an underdeveloped social life can stunt mental growth in children and lead to early death for elderly people.
Our social lives are part of what makes us human. Being in community with others is part of how we survive physically, mentally, and as a society. Being social isn’t limited to going out on Friday night. It includes having someone to share life with and enrich our experiences. Whether you consider yourself a social butterfly or a lone wolf, being social is part of being healthy.
A Need to Be Social from Cradle to Grave
Being social is more than having something fun to do with friends. Being social includes interacting with others in meaningful ways for a wide array of reasons. Being social with friends, family, and colleagues helps us develop into happy and healthy humans who thrive.
Being social begins at birth. Being held and cared for is the first socialization we have. Developing a sense of trust and depending on parents and caregivers to nurture us while we are helpless is the first experiences we have as social creatures. If these are positive, it enhances our socialization and we thrive. If they are negative, it can cause us to stunt our socialization and create mental and physical problems.
Babies need to be cuddled and held to develop socially. As they grow, engaging them every day helps them develop their minds and their psyches in positive ways. Most small children are hyper-focused on their relationships with their parents and immediate family who model healthy socialization for their development.
Typical school-age children thrive in community. They enjoy friends and teachers and soak up social skills like a sponge. They learn by being taught social skills directly as well as observing social norms passively. Kids learn how to be social by watching other kids and internalizing what they see.
Middle-school and high school kids want to fit in more than anything else. Developmentally, being accepted by their peer group is the primary drive during adolescence. Though some kids march to the beat of their own drum, most seek to conform and blend in with their peers rather than stick out.
Young adults begin to socialize in a wider scope. During young adulthood, people seek out like-minded friends to socialize with. Whether this is finding a tribe in college that has the same major or a group of young mothers who have children similar ages. Young adults are more deliberate about finding people to spend time with.
Middle-aged adults may be empty nesters and have established or nearing the end of their careers. This creates an opportunity to recreate or be social in new and exciting ways. Middle-aged folks may break free from socializing with families of their kids’ friends based on sports or other activities their kids have. Middle-aged people often begin revamping their social lives to be more personally satisfying and focused on activities they actively enjoy.
Elderly people run the risk of being socially isolated. In the same way infants require their family to engage them socially, elderly people need family to help them stay mentally acute and thriving. Elderly people may have limited mobility or access to peers. Also, many times their peer group dwindles as people pass on. Regardless, it’s very important for elderly people to have meaningful relationships and not be ignored or neglected.
From the cradle to the grave, we need socialization to stay healthy. Being involved with other people helps us grow, mature, and sustain our mental and physical health throughout our lives.
Are you Having a Midlife Social Identity Crisis?
How we socialize and who we spend our time with is determined by a lot of factors. Factors like-
- The dynamics of our family
- Where we work
- Our Geography
- Access to like-minded people
Each of these plays a large roll in what we do with our free time and how closely related what we do socially is to our identity.
Our family dynamics determine our social life- When we parent, a lot of what we do for fun is focused on our children. Attending activities and events and hanging out with people connected to our children’s activities tends to fill our time.
Where we work determines our social life- Many people spend their on and off-duty time with their co-workers because that’s the pool of people they have access to regularly. In many cases, co-workers become close friends and the people you think of first to hang out with.
Where we live determines our social life– Geography has a lot to do with friendships. Beginning in school when our classrooms determine our playmates. Our home address has a lot to do with who we have access to for our social lives.
Access to like–minded people determines our social life- To the extent we have access to people who enjoy the same things we do, our lives may feel more or less fulfilling.
Sometimes the people we have access to or the activities we have to choose from don’t mesh with our true selves. Sometimes there is a disconnect between how we want to be socially and how we get to be. Limitations like geography, stage of life, and lack of peers can damper meaningful social activities and create a social identity crisis.
If you enjoy activities that aren’t possible for you because of family dynamics, work commitments, or lack of people who enjoy the same activities you may be improvising or denying yourself the fun you truly want. You may be a hiker masquerading as a soccer mom, or a chef forced to volunteer weekends for work. It can be frustrating to socialize in ways that don’t mesh with your heart’s desire.
It’s important to find ways to plug into the social group you want to be a part of even if you can’t make it a primary focus all the time. Finding ways to experience the social climate you truly want can help you feel less frustrated and could open doors to more fun-filled activities. Do what you can to express yourself socially in genuine ways so you feel like you aren’t missing out on the people, places, and activities that you truly want to be a part of.