I’m a working mom in a new-ish city, and I have no friends. Sure, I keep in touch with a handful of childhood and early adulthood friends, but they live thousands of miles away. My social life consists of my kid, husband, parents, dogs, and miscellaneous lesson horses.
It’s hard to make new friends as an adult. I’m busy as hell. The closest thing I have to friends is my coworkers and the people at the barns where I ride and volunteer. We don’t go for drinks or talk on the phone. We don’t confide about personal matters. They’re not friends, they’re acquaintances.
The adults at the barns are also busy. They have kids (or fur babies) and jobs. Those who show or have kids who ride are part of the “barn family” that we casual riders are not. That doesn’t mean the adult beginners can’t find community at the barn, it’s just different from the multi-generational riding families and high-level competitors. Adult beginners come and go. Schedules change constantly and are unrestrained by the responsibility of owning a horse. We have a healthy fear of our trainers. Seeing them outside the barn would be like running into the high school principle on senior ditch day.
I see my barn acquaintances a couple of times a week. We chit chat about horsey stuff, and some superficial life stuff. It’s a time for us to socialize, get away from the pressure of other life responsibilities, and enjoy people who share our interests. It’s a tribe, even if it’s limited in scope.
Do I miss my 20s, when I had time to cultivate #besties. Yes, I cherish those friendships. But as a breadwinner for my small family, I’m officially rejecting the idea that I need to actively seek out best friends. I’d rather eat a bowl of ice cream and do a puzzle alone, watch dressage videos while practicing on a yoga ball, or take a really long shower.
On top of everything else, I’m supposed to have a perfect social life? Yeah right. Something has to give, and for me and so many other parents, social life is the first to go. My alone time is so minimal and precious, I’m not going to squander it auditioning to be someone’s new best friend.
I’m grateful for my adult beginner pals, whose company I thoroughly enjoy during the few hours a week I’m at the barn. For now, I’m good with barn acquaintances, plus as much horsey time as I can manage.
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Writer and aspiring horse lady. She lives in Texas with her husband, daughter, and dogs Thunder & Coco.