How do we make friends in this day and age? And at our age? What do you say? “Do you want to be my friend?”
The article from the Evening Standard Magazine last week struck something in me about the reasons for starting Eclectic Minds.
I remember being on my own in cafes between classes. And thinking that a lot of people were alone in this big city. Well I was. I did not have colleagues as such for being a freelancer and at that exact moment, I was alone.
I thought that the best thing to get to know people would be to have something obvious in common. Not like a gym or a local pub: the spectrum of people is too wide. But something to do in common so the focus would be the DOING and not the BEING. The BEING on its own in a will of friend-making is often linked to be-awkward and be-silent.
So it was definitely an incentive for me to think of an affordable and fun activity to get people to be in touch with others they might not have met in different circumstances. To portray our best self, we need to be comfortable. To be willing to get ourselves out there we need to be surrounded with a handful of kind and benevolent people.
It got me thinking of the barriers we have to undo in order to get in touch with our neighbours. And with more than 300 languages spoken in London it is easy to think of the main obstacle: the lack of understanding. How do you understand each other if you cannot communicate with fluidity? Obviously language is my thing but I am not reinventing the wheel by thinking that if we were to open ourselves to another culture it could work wonders on our relationships.
I started from a teacher-turned-entrepreneur perspective when I launched Eclectic Minds only to realise a couple of years later that there was a secondary effect to this business: the people I get to meet every day. We might not have crossed paths without the classes and it would surely have been a shame as age, gender and social class definitely do not define us. I find some of these people so incredible that I feel grateful for having them around.
It is often difficult to find your tribe when moving abroad. Added to the fact that London is often a go-through destination, we are used to having to say goodbye to good friends. It is a constant exercise of getting to know someone, making an effort here and there: it can get tiring.
I am glad to say today that even though my working life has its big challenges, it is the contact to my type of people which keep me going, it is the contact to my tribe which fills me with joy. Who are they? They are a curious type, they are smiling when we get together, they are open, benevolent and fun. They are interested and interesting. They are all of this and more. You might well be one of them. We might not have met yet, but shall we?