A few years ago I joined this gym in town (I’ll give you one guess which one) and started attending early morning classes. During one of these crack of dawn classes, while I was blurry eyed, half asleep and sweaty, a fellow classmate came up to me and said “hey, you’re a runner right?”. It turns out this lady was on a team for a local adventure race and they were short a runner. Would I like to join them? Well….hmmm...this sounded interesting. I hardly knew this lady, did not know anyone from her team, but sure I’d give it a go.
I was a little nervous. The pressure of being on a team I had little or no information about. Well guess what, it actually turned out to be pretty fun. During the celebration at the finish line (ok yes, it was in the beer garden) I got chatting with the fellow gym goer who had asked me to join the team. Although she was on her bike for her part of the race, she was also a runner. We talked about local races, how we’d like to race more, and how there were trail races around the area. I headed home feeling like I had made a new friend, someone who I had things in common with. A like thinker.
A few days go by and then on a whim I search the world wide web for the trail races she was talking about. On another whim, I find this nice ladies email address through her work website and I drop her a quick email. The email said nothing more than the link to the trail series website and a quick sentence that says “hey, we should do this race”.
Her question that day at the gym, and my email weeks later, started a great friendship that is still going strong today. Yup, we went and raced that trail race together and have raced many, many more since then. We’ve ran, walked, rode bikes, drank coffee, had Christmas parties, shared stories, crashed on trails, pooped in the bush, road tripped, kayaked (although if I had noticed her paddle was off centre & she stopped going in circles she might have went out with me again), and climbed mountains together. Through life, divorce, death, retirement, & injuries, we have stayed fast friends.
The moral of this story is...go out on a limb, make that call, & create your community. Something else to think about is how making that call or asking that question may affect the other person. Maybe they need someone like you in their tribe right at that time for whatever reason. At the same time you are creating a community around yourself you may also be helping someone else create their own healthy, happy community.
When we step out of our comfort zone even a little bit, like just sending that email, it can certainly have big rewards. When we surround ourselves with people that are of a like mind, are like thinkers, do the things we like to do, or even do the things we would like to do, we create our community or our tribe. In creating this community of our own, when we chose active, upbeat, strong, positive thinkers we create an atmosphere of support, encouragement, worth, and happiness in our lives. When we surround ourselves with negative thinkers, naysayers, or sedentary bodies, chances are that’s what we will also become.
Take your time and choose your tribe wisely. You’ll be surprised at how the small steps in creating this tribe turn into such big things. A call, a question, a text, or an email can all start you in the right direction to creating an active, positive, happy life.
Trust me, go out on a limb. You’ll end up surrounded by people that make you happy and healthy. They’ll be people that make you go for that walk, run, bike, kayak, or hit up gym class. They’ll be the ones that stick around and support you, that laugh at your jokes, and lend you an ear or a shoulder when you need it. It’s all so much easier surrounded by your tribe. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.