Making Friends as an Adult, Zumba and Nina Stibbe

What is an often left unsaid, strange & tricky side of “adulting”?

MAKING NEW FRIENDS.

There, I said it. I don’t care if it makes me sound like a creepy little person who wants to make fraandship, but it’s really friendship (heck, I’d even take acquaintance-ship at this point) that I’m after.

When you’re a kid or a teenager, you go to school, college, etc. You are forced to meet people over and over. You’re kind of forced to have a seat partners, and designated seating areas, group projects & assignments, extra curricular activities – all fertile territory for healthy friend-making. At the least you land up with a nice little network of acquaintances that you can casually refer to as “my friend”. For example in a conversation about snacks, you are well within your right to refer to an acquaintance as a friend like so:

Oh, yeah, a friend of mine is from Pune – he gets the best bhakarwadi ever!

If you work in an office, yes, you have great opportunity there to meet a bunch of people with a similar background as yours. You might even manage to make a few friends, but lets be honest, they are mostly strictly “work friends”, and we all know what that means. You have a close set of people you like to bitch about your boss with, and the rest are polite conversation worthy at best. If you’re lucky, you might meet a kindred spirit or two, and if you are very lucky, they are not the “competitive types” as such (and I’m assuming, dear sweet reader that you are also not of that annoying variety), and you can genuinely be great friends – well in any case if you are both weirdly competitive and are still kindred spirits, it could still work. The verdict isn’t out on that one yet.

BUT. What happens when you work from home? Or you move jobs and there aren’t too many people in your office who are in a similar age group as yours? What then?

As you probably know, BlogOwner has been a full time work from home professional for more than 4 years now. FOUR YEARS of not having new people be introduced to her daily life and routine. It takes a toll, people. It does.

The “turn” perhaps happened in May of 2015 (about 6 months after going full independent with her job) when BO felt an urgent need to “make some friends”.

Since then, she has attended group fitness classes (too much of a pain to get to and get back from because she doesn’t drive), joining two different gyms etc. Although, she did meet a kindred spirit at her Crush Fitness class – it really was the funniest story. Both of them looked at each other in the first class and thought the other must be a teenager still in college (and obviously way younger and naive-er than themselves who was a working professional and also married). At the next class, they happened to walk out of the class together and they got chatting. The conversation went something like this (remember, this is something that happened 4 years back):

Her: So what do you do/ study?

Me: *airily with a hint of elderly superiority* Erm, I am a lawyer turned photographer. What about you? You’re in college?

Her: *looking shocked and amused* I am a journalist! I work, and I’m married.

Me: *looking even more surprised* Me too! I got married last year! Oh my God I totally thought you were in college.

Her: I thought the same about you!!

Me, not sure if I actually said this, but I thought it for sure: We should congratulate each other on looking so young!

After this little initial chat, we had gone on to chat about various things including my career transformation (which was and still is a topic of a lot of interest to working people, and me obviously, because I love talking about it :P), her dreams of starting her own fashion boutique (she wanted to be a journalist turned fashion designer, sweet readers, how talented is this lady!). Talking about hopes and dreams is something that I instantly connect with people over, though it seems like the last thing you’d want to talk to a practical stranger about. Well, I guess this is how you “make friends” as an adult!

Any way, the sad thing is that I stopped going to that class because it was seriously annoying having to Uber a cab in sweaty clothes outside the little alley in which the Gym was (thank you very much, Delhi).

Then, I actually did happen to make an adult friend (as I call her – which I’ve been told sounds super shady, but you know what I mean!! If it’s unclear, it means a new friend I made as an adult – there!) totally organically through one of my photography assignments. K and I just hit it off from our very first conversation, and we bonded over our deep seated, mutual love and respect for Anne of Green Gable and Lucy Maud Montgomery. I rarely ever meet people who are the kind of Anne fans that I am, and K and I bonded over how Gilbert spoilt boys for her, and Diana spoilt friends for me. Ever since our first chat, all our conversations have been stream of consciousness type of flows where the words simply tumble out without too much overthinking about what the other person might think of them.

We met a few times, and then did not for a year or two. sidenote: I guess when you get old (-er than teenage years), a year or two is not that long a time, you know?

Then we ended up meeting a lot in 2018 as we were both in a similar place of needing to make new adult friends (yes we talked about it – it’s normal!! If you don’t know what this feels like, you are quite blessed I must enviously admit), as she too worked from home and was an independent professional.

Then, she moved to Mumbai – I am so happy for this so many reasons. (a) I LOVE that K got a lovely new job that she wanted and moved to (b) The best city ever. She’s really cool, and into the arts but not in a pretentious or snobbish way, but in an intelligent, respectful and wise way – which makes it wonderful to bond with her about all things culture. So I’m happy she gets to express this side of hers in a city that is so accepting and loving.

BUT coming back to BO’s situation at hand – adult friends. One in proximity. Gone. To another city. Sure we text, but we all know it’s not the exact same thing. When you meet someone frequently you can tell them about silly and stupid things about your life like you ate a new kind of chips and you loved it (or hated it, or whatever) – which seems a bit too stupid and silly to say over text. Though I know there may be friends that you do share that kind of things with over text, but for me, it’s just not the same. At least Facetime.

Fast forward to 2019. BO has now felt the need to know her actual neighbours better. It felt rather absurd, in a belated shocked kind of way, that she did not really know any one her own age in this colony of over 500 inhabitants (rough estimate).

Enter the local Zumba class.

BO loves all things dance and fitness. So it really seemed like the perfect thing to do in the evenings. 6:30 – 7:30 pm? Why, that’s when I anyway do my workout! Perfect timing. Where is it you say? Hardly 100 metres from my place? Sign. me. up.

And sign up she did.

She has been going for about a week now and it has been refreshing to see new faces, and also to see the same new faces over and over. One lovely lady even distributed chocolates for her birthday! How sweet, and community minded is that? BO really felt like she was back in school – in the best possible way (don’t lie, free birthday chocolates were your favourite thing about school too :P)

On a slightly different topic, I am very excited about this book:

Nina Stibbe Despatches from Family Life
Nina Stibbe – Love, Nina Despatches from Family Life

I had to read her book once I read her “advice” from this remarkable little book called “Life Lessons From Remarkable Women” by Stylist Magazine. I actually first heard about this on Tea & Tattle – a delightful podcast by Miranda Mills which I listen to while painting. Highly recommended.

The title of Nina’s essay is “Why 99% of Advice Can Be Ignored“. It really spoke to me, and I am one of those people who will listen pliantly to every person’s sage advice, nodding right along, but will go on to do exactly what she wants. Every time I have done this, it has served me very well. So I take it Nina is a bit of a kindred spirit in doling out the same “advice” (the irony is not lost on me). I hope I love her book!

As you see this is a Wednesday morning, and instead of doing my regularly scheduled work programming for Wednesdays (social media, social media, social media), I have been blogging! Back to work for now! Hoping to keep up my blogging, but on weekends, or after hours!! Wish me luck!

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