I made a new friend at the gym.

Today I made a new friend. I feel like I’m back at primary school again when I say that.

Before I get into it, I recommend you take a look at this video I filmed right after (bonus points if you spot the moment where some guy enters the changing room and casually gets naked whilst I’m filming).

It was just meant to be any other morning. I rocked up the gym to do half a day’s work + workout, and European guy was sitting in his car with the door open. I’d seen him a few times around the gym, exchanged a glance here and there.

Here’s the thing. Sometime during my mental illness bout, I went back to the gym and started going to a new one. In a new environment I tend to take a while to get used to a place; at my last gym, my response was to be my typical people-pleaser self and say hi to anyone and everyone. For the last 18 months I’ve done pretty much the opposite here. I do my thing, avoid eye contact/conversations, bish bash bosh. Workout done. I sit in the gym cafe, get my head down and do my work. That’s it.

Over time I’ve gotten to know a couple of the desk staff of course, and a couple of the trainers there. Paul, personal trainer, is now a good friend of mine. Again – that word “friend”. I knew a lot of people a couple of years, but I wouldn’t have known who to have called a friend back then. This feels like a common problem amongst the best of us. And I think men are particularly lax/inept at making friends + maintaining those friendships.

Anyhow, European guy said “hi” and I decided to break the ice and make conversation. We spent a few minutes talking first in the car park, then in the gym reception, and then again afterwards in the gym cafe. Turns out his name is Vincenzo, he’s from Naples in Italy, the youngest of three siblings and very similar to me. We somehow managed to talk about work/quarter life crisis, family, sport and all other sorts of stuff.

When I talk to someone one on one, we usually find some common ground. But it was amazing just how much we shared in that moment. I wonder if this is how it’ll happen when “the one” comes along…? Hmm.

We exchanged details quite early on, when it was more of a “yeah, sure, let me know and I’m happy to give you some job advice” (I used to work in recruitment“ and by the end it was ”yeah, let’s play tennis soon!“ and I even invited him to Goals&Brunch – a like-minded community of conscious souls who I’ve been telling various folks about recently.

It reminded me of an interaction I had 3 years ago in Bushy Park (wow, I keep meeting Italians… coincidence?). And yet another reminder to – whilst on the one hand preserve my energy and not over-exert myself when out and about / in interactions, also be open to the opportunities to connect IN REAL LIFE. Before all this social media and dating app lark.

It feels strange to say it, and perhaps a tad premature, but I have a feeling I’ve made a new friend today. Who knew.

PS. Again, I’d encourage you to watch this short video I filmed in the gym changing room right after, for added context.

by,

Jasraj 🙎🏽‍♂️

✏️ Thursday 27th September, 2018

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