I’ve reached the end of February (and the start of March; pinch punch and all that) and it’s time to reflect of the social task: What have I learned, was it successful and what tips can I pass on?
It didn’t all go to plan. And actually, the first few weeks of classes I realised that the rather massive flaw in going to a class to meet people where you can hardly breathe due to the effort the exercise takes, is that you don’t have any opportunity to speak!
So on the second week of both I put my big brave pants on and stayed for a few minutes after each to chat to people. It was just a few words, but it meant the following week I had a name to use for some people which makes a bit more of a connection with people, I think. It felt like tiny steps, and in terms of getting to know people it felt like it might be wasted effort, but then I accidentally went to a pilates class. I thought pilates was about slow movements, and slow relaxing breathing. When I checked this with the teacher afterwards, she confirmed it is indeed about slow movements, but her view on the breathing side is that as long as we are, that’s great. It was hard, so hard I sang along to the music for quite a lot of it.
Apparently, I wasn’t as quiet as I thought as I decided to go back the following week and the lady on the mat next to me asked if I was the person who had sang all the previous week. Ooops. Happily, she thought it was funny, the ice was broken and the fact that we’re both called Helen, both put ourselves on the back row and both laughed through the impossible bits made me realise maybe I’d found someone local really on my wavelength. We’re going for a coffee soon so we can chat without our abs / legs / arms screaming in pain. I’ll probably not sing then either.
What’s amazing is that I’m already not the new girl in either class. And although there is still a part of me that feels a bit nervous as I walk into the halls for the classes, I remind myself that the feeling of being nervous and excitement come from the same part of the brain and feel very similar. And what’s the worst that can happen?
In terms of achieving the goal of meeting new people, I’ve definitely met some and (if I recognise them when they are not sweating and wearing lycra), I might recognise a few people next time I go to my local. Hopefully some of them I’ll meet up with at some point outside the class. And I’m rather proud of that.
So, my tips from this?
- It can be daunting to walk in somewhere new on your own, but it can work out rather well too.
- It can also be slightly toe-curlingly awkward, but actually, that’s pretty much the worst it can be (and that’s the sort of story people like to hear, so you have something to entertain friends with 😉 )
- Not everything will work and not everything will work straight away. You can’t assume everything is a failure straight away though – I initiated all the conversations I had with other people for the first three weeks, but now people are staring to talk to me first.
- Being part of a group with a purpose feels good (it’s a ‘basic need’ from a psychology view point). Even if you don’t end up with a whole heap of new contacts in your phone, just going to something once a week where you are part of a bigger picture is a million miles better than sitting at home wondering ‘what if…?’
If you feel like there might be part of you missing a social element to life, try it. Find a class or activity that sounds like fun for you – exercise, painting, DIY, computers, cooking, park run – and go along. What could be around the corner for you?