On Mental Health


I’ve found myself hanging out with friends more often than running lately, which is interesting as I’ve always said I wouldn’t have a social life if it weren’t for running. But, it turns out, if you build your friendships around your running group, you don’t get to know anyone who runs a different speed than you.

In the weeks since the election as I’ve rallied with other locals to try to orchestrate action and gather information, I find more and more reasons to connect in events that don’t require sweating. So, while my training has completely fallen into the crapper, my social life is feeling much more enriched as I’m building deeper connections with people I previously only knew casually.

I’ve been contemplating this a lot – how I suddenly have a slew of good friends in my life. As someone who spent the years 2001-2010 terrified of trying to make friends, I now find myself having coffee on Sundays or meeting friends at breweries or going to someone’s house for a party…all in ONE WEEK! And suddenly I’m realizing that my life has grown rich in ways I never expected in the agoraphobic years. Running was an easy way to make friends because there is no need for eye contact and silence is acceptable because if you’re not talking…you’re just running. But now I’m socializing on a different level and I’m proud at how I’ve been able to get to know people. I still find myself quadruple questioning every word I spoke as I try to go to sleep at night: Was that rude? Was that TMI? Did I laugh too loud? But for the most part, I’m finding socializing to be way more enjoyable than it has been in years past.

I guess the key has been finding common ground to make friends that is on a richer level than simple convenience of proximity. Having kids in the same school doesn’t always mean deep connections. But, if you run with people on Sunday mornings, there’s a better chance that they have similar thoughts about Church as you do. That’s a deep connection. If you get to know someone through political activism, that’s a deep connection. If you bond over social justice, that’s a deep connection. I’m starting to think before that I had trouble making friends because I was using proximity as my only starting point. We go to the same school. Our kids are in soccer together. We live in the same neighborhood. Those are fine places to start friendships, but if you don’t easily find deeper things to connect on, then the friendships stay at the surface level and don’t feel as rich.

I have accidentally stumbled upon some really rich connections simply by building friendship with a starting point deeper than proximity. Politics. Religion. Social justice. I am learning that when you meet people in these capacities, you already have a deep connection to build on. I assume it would be the same if I joined a support group of some type. Like maybe if you had a child with a disability and found a support group of people with the same challenges, those friendships would start with similar rich beginnings. If you start a relationship by being vulnerable, it seems maybe the foundation for stronger connections is better. This is something I never considered but explains why I feel like I’m making such better connections and richer friendships now than I ever did over a decade ago. It’s something I actually kinda knew with this blog – so many of us have connected over parenting challenges or infertility or social justice – and I consider some of my friendships with you guys rich and fulfilling as well. I just never thought to apply the same trick that’s helped me build virtual friendships to real-world friendships.

I do wish my Dad was alive to talk about this with – he and I pontificated on our own social awkwardness often. He always lamented that he lost his friends when my brother and I graduated because the thing that connected him to the parents of our friends was gone. I think he would find my enlightenment interesting as it supports the same thing – that friendships built on convenience and proximity might not be as long lasting as friendships built on common vulnerabilities or passions.

Anyway – I know I’ve not written much here lately. We’ve had some nonblogable stuff going on (as many of these friends I’ve mentioned can attest to as without the blog to vent on they all have to hear the updates constantly) and it’s hard to sit down and write and not be able to write what’s in my heart.

But thanks to all of you for laying the groundwork so I could feel safer connecting with real-world people about some of the things I talk about here. I’m feeling very blessed lately. Tired and emotionally drained, but oh-so-very blessed.


2 thoughts on “Connecting”

  1. I think I’ve accidentally stumbled upon the same thing! Through running, I’ve made my first new real friends in years (including you!) I found proximity didn’t really work for me either. In the past, ultimate frisbee brought me some friends, a few of whom are still part of my life now that I’ve quit playing. I’ve also made friends through work, people with whom I have common work interests, but with whom I’ve also found common recreational interests as well. I’ve found that the good experiences I’ve had making friends through your Sunday morning running group have made me braver about trying other new groups too!

  2. I’m so happy for you, and inspired – maybe someday I’ll be able to follow in your footsteps 🙂

    In the meantime, Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher of Star Trek Next Generation fame) posted an interesting blog post about a document called Indivisible Against Trump, which contains a document outlining how the Tea Party fought against Obama and how to use those tactics against Trump. The blog post is here: http://wilwheaton.net/2016/12/indivisible-against-trump-a-practical-guide-to-fighting-back/

    I took a quick read through, and it looks like there are some practical ideas in there. Hope it’s helpful!

Leave a Reply