This post is part of a series of reflections during Lent. This year for Lent I’m trying to create more than copy once a week, inspired by the Portuguese phrase mira voce, prominently featured in my jam “Mira,” by Melody Gardot.
This week’s mira voce is all about dating friends and not at all about dating. It’s about making friends, specifically for the twentysomethings. Easy, yes? I wish it was as easy as it sounds.
Last weekend my husband and I were with our lovely and hospitable family in Wisconsin and one of our relatives asked us about life, work, etc. – and friends. I shared about the friends we made in grad school who still live within a 5 mile radius but will soon be moving to different states for jobs. Then I blurted out “We need to work on making friends!” I sheepishly realized that apart from work and school friends, there wasn’t a huge list. I love my work friends and our grad school friends. But I feel like we should put our adulty pants on and meet some people, like “real life” people, whatever that means.
This is partly (wholely) why I joined a gym. I love people and their stories and passions and ups and downs. Community is so important to me that I have a hard time expressing it. Needless to say, I thought I could meet and make a whole bunch of new friends if I joined a gym.
This is the part where want I say how much of a success story I am, a twentysomething rising above the fray of the cold dark, frozen plains of the North-central United States and I managed make SO many friends by joining a gym — but I think that would be a lie. I haven’t held any dinner parties with new friends, or grabbed coffee to just “grab coffee,” or oogled at DSW shoes with any of these new friends I’m supposed to immediately make when I joined a gym.
But perhaps this is because I’m measuring success incorrectly — because I’m having a really good time at this place. Like, really. Like, one of my grad school friends convinced me to come with her to a ballet-style Pilates class at this gym (we met other non-grad school people so it still counts). We were setting up our fancy Pilates mats, and I was like “Yea, class is about to start in a minute!” and she was like “I feel like we are getting weirdly excited to get our butts kicked for 60 minutes,” and I was like “I KNOW I’M SO EXCITED!”
Needless to say, that was Friday and now it’s Monday and I’m as sore as sore people are who overestimate their Pilates skills. But honestly. About mid-class we got to bounce on big fitness bouncy balls and I felt 5 years old again (which I do as often as appropriate). Then 60 minutes was by super fast, and Zumba was about to start. This is where twice a week I turn into a backup dancer for Gloria Estafan and shout out with with my fellow gym-crazed people “DALE, DALE” to insanely loud latin music (that takes me back to Trinidad & Tobago every time). I found gym people who are just as consistently nuts as me! Honestly it’s not a bad way to work out.
So to those who feel like they should be adulty and make friends in the “real world” (because before it was a fake one?), don’t fret. Take heart. Instead of focusing on all the friends you have yet to make, invest your time and energy into things that make you happy and make time fly by — and do them in a group or class (like “group fitness” options at Lifetime Fitness). I try not to get stuck in a self-doubt rut, and this Lent is prime time for me to practice patience and refocus on things that I’m passionate about, instead of focusing on all the friends I don’t have. Besides, I still have some pretty cool people around me in-person or via Skype who are far away (here’s looking at you; family, co-workers, and friends, especially the grad school-y kind).