How socially connected are you? I don't mean in a hierarchical sense, I mean able to say, 'hi' and share a moment with a stranger. Apparently recent studies show you were at your 'peak friendship' age at 25. Bet you didn't even notice how popular you were back then? Hmm. Should have savoured it while it lasted! My life has borne that out. Many friends started getting into serious relationships in their late 20's. There was less going out and more nesting in. Tastes became ossified and some people dropped over the precipice of the old fogey - never to re-emerge.
As we get older we do get set in our ways, and it's easy to define ourselves by what we don't like and won't do. But being open to novelty and change is vital if we want to have a long, healthy and happier life.
As we head into our 30's we become more absorbed in family, responsibility, work, career building and in between all this busyness and 'life building.' Many of us are also on the look out for a partner to share our ever shrinking world. And the irony is, we are certainly not going to find that soul mate if we stay put, looking inward. Yes I know there is Tinder......but.....
We have to get out there and keep making connections - whatever our age. Drop notions of romance and just meet some people and meet their friends and their friends' friends.
Sometimes those in long term relationships are even lonelier than their single counterparts. It's easy to slip into being insular, staying in our domestic bubble. But keeping social is necessary, just like regular exercise. We have to keep our conversational muscles warmed up and develop our curiosity or it withers.
Modern life has made socialising a bit weirder. The rules are not clear. Do you find yourself living in virtual friendship circles? On line on a Saturday night? Be careful. Facebook can fuel feelings of inadequacy, as I discussed in the ABC pocketdoc, The mollusc and the peacock. We find ourselves lurking and watching the facebook peacocks crowing about their stylish, amazing lives, as radio producer, Natalie Kestecher puts it. We are left feeling inadequate while our facebook 'friends' show off the latest holiday, expensive meal and fabulous, curated lifestyles. We rarely see the day to day failure and hanging around all day in our pajamas being posted up. And how many facebook friends have you managed to actually meet? To connect with face to face? I sometimes wonder if we are getting less social the more we are connected via social media?
Of course, everyone feels tense about meeting new people, worrying that they will have nothing to 'say.' Or, that they will be rejected at social events, left standing by the buffet, like Johnny no mates. And yes that sometimes happens, so let's move on!
Here are a couple of suggestions to get started.
Sydney writer, Walter Mason suggests in his workshops on meaningful travel writing, 'always say 'yes.''to an invitation. Keep open to new experiences, you never know where they make take you, today, tomorrow or way into the future. Even if you don't feel like it, or have no interest in slot car racing or the opera. Just say yes. Go along. Decide to ask questions of strangers, or simply observe.
Of course I am going to suggest this, but try to make or learn something new....come along to a classbunny workshop or talk. Join in and learn the Charleston or draw at a collaborative doodle table. 'But,' I hear you say, 'I have no-one to go with.' That/s an excuse I do hear a lot. And I get it, it is nicer to go with a wing man in tow. But sometimes when we fly solo it is a more enriching experience because we are forced to interact and have conversations we can't flit away from. Awkwardness is part of the territory but persevere,keep talking, ask questions and that initial discomfort will disappear.
If you still don't feel brave enough to go stag, I have sought a solution to the 'I have no-one to go with' problem and started a classbunny meetup group. If you haven't tried meetup - you really should. there are like minded people in their thousands around Sydney, simply meeting up face to face to share experiences, world views and hobbies. Some have membership of a couple of dozen, others have well over a thousand.
Take a look at the class bunny meet up page, see what's on and who else is going. The mere fact that they have joined means they are happy to meet YOU....the you that will come along alone, be a bit shy maybe. Leave a message on the page and make contact with the other people that are also going to an event. beforehand and get your social muscles moving!