Emily ALWAYS makes people feel welcome! Photo by Brigid Marz.
Are you thinking of taking up a new hobby?
What? What’s that? Aerial silks?!
I LOVE that idea – you should totally do it! 😉
Hmmm? Oh, you’re nervous to come by yourself and want to bring your bestie?
Yup! I get that! Come on down! But, here are a few things to keep in mind when training with your friends, frenemies, and that girl you just met on the train who seems kind of awesome but may be a little too into those nutritional supplements she keeps trying to sell you.
Meeting People is Hard!
Is it confession time yet? Because I have one. I hate going new places alone! I’m shy (yup – I know, you didn’t see that coming), and quite the introvert. The idea of going to a new class with no friend to act as a social safety net is So Intimidating!! Ugh – I’ve got butterflies just thinking about it.
BUT (you knew there would be a but), that safety net can keep you from meeting new people and bonding with a group. It’s sooooo tempting to sit off by yourselves, chatting, and not interacting much with the other people. If you bring a friend, do try to:
- Introduce yourself to at least 3 people, or have a quick chat. “Do you come to this class often?” “How did you hear about aerial silks?” “What do you like best about circus?”
- Don’t isolate yourselves -make sure you’re not “islanding” (did I just make up a word? I think I did!). Sit or work near the core group – remember, you are welcome here!
- Pay attention! Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in your own conversational world with your pal. Don’t forget that there’s a person trying to teach you something.
Competition Can Be Awkward
Tale as old as time. You come to class with your friend Bitsy who has never touched a fabric, while you have trained for 12 years. On her first day, Bitsy masters the climb, in-air inversion, and is offered a Cirque du Soleil contract at the end of her class. It is a supreme test of character to thwart the feelings of jealousy that can crop up when you are surpassed by a friend. Think you’re not competitive? Maybe that’s true! And maybe it’s not. Be gentle with yourself if you find feelings bubbling up.
I’d love to have a simple “5 Steps to Being OK With Having Your Butt Whooped By Your Best Friend”, but it’s a very personal journey. What I can leave you with is this: it’s OK. It’s OK to feel these feelings, it’s really common, and it does not mean that you’re a bad person. Everyone will experience jealousy at some point! When it comes up for me, I try to focus on the fact that it is NOT a competition. My journey is MY journey, and it is unique to me; I have strengths that are mine alone, and this is what I need to magnify. (note: it’s hard and it sucks – keep practicing)
Are You a Mean Girl? The Other Side of the New Student Equation
I am blessed beyond measure to have some of the friendliest, kindest, sassiest students on the planet. They reach out to newbies, and do everything they can to make them feel welcome! From a teaching perspective, this makes me want to weep with gratitude. Are you one of these students? THANK YOU!
Alternatively, you also occasionally get the Mean Girl (I’m sure it happens with guys too, but I teach mostly ladies). The Mean Girl sees every new student as competition, or as an “outsider”, and makes zero effort to be friendly. In fact, she may give off an overtly hostile vibe. The vibes aren’t confined to newbies, I might add!
This deserves it’s own post, but I’ll just leave this here. If you have Mean Girl tendencies (and many of us do, to some extent), KNOCK IT OFF. Is this really who you want to be? Really? OR, would you like to be the student who:
- is the first to say hello to a new student
- helps them get the lay of the land
- points out where they’re doing a really great job
- is encouraging and supportive (“My first class was so hard, I had no idea it would be that tough! Keep with it, you’ll get it – I promise!”)
Mean girls bring down the energy of a class, and can create a toxic environment for learning. Don’t be that person who makes someone feel lonely and left out.
So Wait – Should I Bring a Friend or Not?
Yes – by all means! Just keep in mind that it’s good to meet new people, pay attention, and try to keep competition from becoming less-than-friendly. Think community! Love and pull-ups, Laura
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