Yes, working swing shifts is difficult and if you are working with people outside of your age bracket, without a doubt, they probably have different commitments and interests . . . a two year commitment is not forever and it will allow you the experience to progress in your career . . .right now, though, you still need a circle of if not friends then acquaintances . . . .as much as online contact can be valuable, it does not replace person-to-person contact . . . is there any type of community-based group in your area that could use your expertise when you have time available? For example, I am associated with a community resource center . . . I have very odd work hours (I sometimes have to be the one on-call, etc.) but the center is sensitive to my work hours and I am able to volunteer when it suits me . . . . I have met many people through this work and although I do not count all of them as friends, I have met several for coffee (well, tea for me) an multiple occasions and we have participated in several activities usually associated with the center but not always . . . my situation is the mirror of yours because many of the other volunteers are high school students . . . they like to chat with me because of my experience and I am an objective "voice" and I enjoy my time with them because they are excited about new technology . . . I also socialize, when I can, with people from my own age peer group . . . .all of this, though, did take an investment on my part to get beyond my shyness . . . even at my age, I find it difficult entering a room of people whom I do not know but I just now do it and take the first step to go and introduce myself . . . not all my contacts have resulted in relationships . . . everyone has different goals and needs and commitments, but I have met many very nice people who, in turn, have introduced me to others . . .
I have found, and this is me and we are all different, that I make of a new situation what I want to make of it . . . .I am returning to school as a full time student and leaving my comfort zone . . . the people who will be in my program are easily in their early to mid 20s . . . .many, many, many years younger than I am . . . I am anxious about it because I am leaving my comfort zone . . . there will be no one in the classes whom I know and quite frankly, I will be older than the professors . . . as anxious as I am, though, I know that I have to make of the experience whatever I can . . . I am looking forward to being with colleagues who are younger with innovative ideas and energy and I am looking forward to seeing if my experience will contribute to their knowledge base . . . perhaps it will and perhaps it won't . . . . maybe you could find some way to make your 2-year experience work for you . . . there might be a Toastmasters Club in your area which is a super organization especially for people who are shy or have difficulties with public speaking and it is a great network of professionals . . . . or you may be able to find someone in senior management, perhaps no so much for social interaction, but one who is willing to mentor you in your career so that your 2-year stay will be especially profitable for you . . .
And, as always, hopefully you will find our forum a welcoming place to come and, if you want, to post an update or just to know that you are definitely not alone and you certainly do have an online connection here . . . take care, kc