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    Adapting to Life Outside Our Home With SMA

    I once heard a joke that a woman’s mind is like an Internet browser that has 1000 tabs open and running at once. I laughed at the time, but came to realize that if I didn’t actually feel like this before hearing the short acronym “SMA,” I most certainly do now.

    I spend much of my time pre-planning and thinking of possible problems that we may run into because of the kids’ diagnoses. I think many other SMA parents do this as well. Prior to our lives with SMA, we didn’t realize just how inaccessible the world is to those who are differently-abled.

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        Kevin Schaefer
        Keymaster

        When I graduated college in late 2016, I underestimated how hard it would be to maintain friendships and keep in touch with people. I had so many friends in college, and I always had someone to meet up with for lunch or hang out with after class. I knew of course that there would be people I’d only kind of keep in touch with on Facebook, but for the most part I expected to still see a lot of my friends, coworkers from the school paper, and peers.

        The truth is that it’s hard, as people go all over the place after graduation to different careers and to grad school. Some are better than others at keeping in touch, but for the most part you really have to put forth the effort when it comes to maintaining friendships. Adulthood can be great, but it can also be lonely if you’re not careful.

        I’m an extrovert who works from home, which isn’t exactly the best combination. I love my job, and through modern technology I’m still able to connect with my coworkers and people who I interview on my podcast. Still, if I’m not careful, I can feel really isolated and start to get depressed.

        The best advice I have to maintain a healthy social life as a post-college adult is to be intentional about it. Over the past few months I’ve had several close friends move for jobs or family situations. It’s been a tough transition for me, but it’s also forced me to be more intentional about hanging out with friends who are here and staying active in communities that I am involved in.

        For example, I hang out regularly at my local comic shop, and I spend hours chatting with the employees and other customers. I usually do this on Saturdays now, and it’s a great way to get me out of the house. Then through SMA conferences, I’ve met some great friends who live in North and South Carolina. I’ll actually see them tomorrow at a Cure SMA summit, and they’re really good people. Plus I’m looking to get more involved in my church and check out some of the young adult groups there.

        Another thing that’s been helpful is reconnecting with old friends. Recently I’ve been hanging out with a friend from college who’s in his last semester, and he’s actually going to be helping me out as sort of a part-time caregiver. He’ll do things like help me out at home when I’m working, help me get lunch and run errands, and to just hang out. We have a lot of shared interests, and it’ll be nice to have someone there when I’m just in my home office. I’m just paying him out of pocket, and it worked out well as he has a lighter course load this semester. He’s a good friend who I met through a Christian campus ministry, and it’ll be nice to both spend more time with him and have him help me out. We’re meeting up on Sunday to coordinate a schedule for him.

        I also went out with another friend who I met through that same ministry a few weeks ago. We went to dinner right before Christmas, and she’s a really good person to be around. Our schedules don’t always line up, but I do really enjoy spending time with her, and we’ve been able to hang out a few times over the past few months.

        All of this is a long way of saying to be intentional about your relationships as an adult. I love working, but I don’t recommend for anyone to be so consumed by their work that they don’t make time for spending quality time with people. Make time for friends when you get out of college, and be intentional about holding on to healthy, old relationships, as well as building new ones. Even positive people such as myself can be lonely and depressed at times, but it’s important to remember that the more intentional we are about our relationships, the stronger they will be.

        What questions do you have about post-college life?

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