One of the three actions I chose to support building on my individual relationships was to sign up for a pre-natal fitness class. I thought this would be a good way to start new friendships with other people who were experiencing a similar life circumstance. In social psychology, acquaintances and subsequent friendships are believed to occur at a much higher rate when the conditions of proximity, frequency of contact, and commonality are met.
I figured that by joining a local pre-natal fitness class I would be setting myself up to meet all three of those parameters. Thanks to the pre-natal requirement of the class I would have at least one point of commonality, we were all likely to reside in somewhat close proximity to the location of the class, and I would be seeing them at least once per week for about eight (8) weeks.
Fool proof plan for building new friendships – right? Except I forgot about one little thing, actually two little things.
One (1) – I don’t remember how to make friends. How exactly does one do that? I distinctly remember being four (4), running around at the playground, and it being perfectly acceptable to everyone present to ask “Hey, wanna be my friend?”. Then we would hang out for the rest of our time at the park, and if we ran into each other again it was like we were long lost buddies. It was just that simple.
Through school years, and even through the past twelve years of my career life, I never THOUGHT about actively making friends. Friendships just happened. Largely because of proximity, frequency of contact and commonality! I became friends with people I worked with, and as I moved from various position and geographic location my previous friendships waned and new ones began. It was all very cyclical.
But, never investing time, energy or thought into maintaining my old friendships left with me with lots of people who I can “hang out with” but a very select few of whom I consider to be close friends.
Which brings me to point number two (2).
One of the most significant downsides of PTSD that seems to linger, at least for me, is the struggle to connect with others. When I’m being honest, the only people I feel I truly connect with is my husband and my sister. For everyone else I put on my social mask and I wear it well. Despite many efforts to push myself outside my comfort zone and reach out to other people in a meaningful way, I cannot seem to get past the surface friendships/relationships.
So, two teensy little stumbling blocks in my master plan of making new friends. Can’t remember how to do it – and struggle to connect at the best of times……..not a great start.
I invested at least a couple hours trying to identify a formula, framework, or methodology I could apply to making new friends. Something that would boil it down to a logical process (process of course lands squarely in an area of comfort for me).
But, I couldn’t think of anything. There was nothing I could see that was going to make this easy for me. I was going to be uncomfortable, but it seemed the only option was going to be to put myself out there and continue to try.
So, despite procrastinating for a good half of the month, I finally signed up for a pre-natal yoga class. I was supposed to attend my first class last night, and then I got the call that there wasn’t enough interest and the class would be cancelled.
Fortunately I had booked a back-up plan. There hadn’t been any other pre-natal fitness classes scheduled to start this month, so I also booked a one day labour and delivery pre-natal class. It was only one day, but hey, maybe I could find out from some of the mom’s there if they had found any good fitness classes in other areas of the city, and see here that led me.
I won’t lie, I felt a huge sense of relief when the yoga class was cancelled, which is funny since I enjoy yoga so much. Maybe it’s because I was anticipating the pressure I would be placing on myself to step out of my comfort zone and push myself a little.
So then I tell myself that maybe I would be better off letting things just happen organically, rather than trying to create opportunities for friendship? But that might be my way of shrugging off ownership of building new friendships. Sometimes my procrastination in this area has the ability to present itself in such logical ways that I don’t even realize the trick I’m playing on myself.
I guess we’ll see what happens at this labour and delivery class and go from there!
Next Up: February’s Takeaways