A few weeks ago I did something that I really wanted to do and also didn’t want to do at all – isn’t that the way it is sometimes with adulting? The very things that are good for us are sometimes the ones that we just don’t want to do.
Having moved to a new city within the last year means that I don’t know very many people and almost all of the people that I know best and who really know me live 3000 miles away. So I need to start making some new friends – local ones that I can grab a drink or bite to eat with.
I can’t say that I’ve ever consciously tried to make new friends before. It feels strange, like the sort of thing that should just happen naturally and I have to admit, I’m not really a big fan of the early parts of friendship building. I’m an introverted extrovert (or an extroverted introvert) and while I derive a certain amount of happiness from social situations, I really suck at the mechanics of it all…the introductions, small talk and getting to know you phase. I’d rather skip ahead to the good stuff.
With only a few exceptions, I’ve known all of my current friends since childhood and the few that I made as an adult were women that I worked with for years. Finding new people isn’t easy.
I read an article recently that advised me to take advantage of places that I already frequent, namely work. Makes sense, but the company I work for has less than 50 employees and only 5 of them are women. I need to branch out.
Which is exactly how I found myself sitting at an unfamiliar bar on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago – wishing for the millionth time that I wasn’t so awkward in social situations. I’d been excited when I heard that the roller derby league here in Portland – the Rose City Rollers were having a volunteer mixer. I was even looking forward to it until, of course, that morning. That’s when I started questioning why I would ever purposely subject myself to a room full of strangers and began to talk myself out of going.
So why had I decided to put myself in a situation that I knew would make me uncomfortable? Because it’s good for me.
You know what? I’m really glad I pushed myself to go. It was a fun event – I learned about the organization, heard about some cool volunteer opportunities and met some really nice people. Mostly though, it was a good reminder that pushing myself outside my comfort zone won’t kill me.
Another bonus –I won VIP tickets to a bout and last weekend Adam and I decided to head out to the rink at Oaks Park to check it all out. Admittedly, my knowledge of roller derby was pretty much based on the movie Whip It and a handful of 1970’s pop culture references, but they did a great job explaining how it all works before the bout started. What a great time!
Here are a few random observations I made that night:
- Everyone we came into contact with was just awesome – the person taking our ticket, the woman who sold me a cider, the photographer we sat next to, and the other ladies in line for the restroom – they all rocked.
- We totally left that night trying to figure out what our roller derby names would be. I chose Betty Spite and Adam decided on Felonious Punk.
- I wasn’t bored once. There was very little down time during the bout itself and even though we were there early it was fun to watch them warm-up and a great people watching opportunity.
- I left with tons of respect for the ladies. They’re just like you and I but cool enough and brave enough to strap on 8 wheels and a helmet.