Running (away from) Friends

"Run away!"

Several months ago, I joined a running group who organizes running events, happy hours and yoga sessions online. They meet in the Twin Cities area and I had every intention of joining them for some running. I figured I could get advice from experienced runners and meet some new friends. I’ve even run races that several other members were at, yet I’ve never joined them for running or the after-parties. Why? I’m scared.

 As a kid, I was always shy, quiet and didn’t know how to approach others. Some of that remains. I’ve become a lot more outgoing and can talk to anyone when there are horses involved. I can even start conversations with random strangers. However, I seem to have difficulty starting conversations with people I would like to become friends with.

Through the years, I haven’t retained many true friends. I think the reason for this is that I prefer to avoid drama of any kind and I get tired of people who will only participate in a friendship when it’s convenient for them. I have a lot of people I would consider acquaintances – the people I chat with occasionally on Facebook and see once and a while at parties or other gatherings. There are only three or four people I would confide in.

In participating in online conversation threads with the members of the running group, they all sound like friendly, open people. It’s not them I’m scared of. Add the shyness to being slightly intimidated by my lack of speed and knowledge when it comes to running and I shrink away. I’m not sure how to get past this.

Weekly, I look at their calendar and tell myself I could make it to at least one of the meet ups – but I never do. How do I force myself to just suck it up and put myself out there? What’s the worst that could happen?

I could find out that I don’t click with anyone in the group or that I can’t keep up with anyone on the runs. Then I’d go home, stop wondering if I’m missing out and move on to something else. Or, I could make an awesome new friend, running partner or even just acquaintances and find myself having fun! Either way, at least I’d know, right?

Time to look at the calendar again…

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1 Response to Running (away from) Friends

  1. charlotte says:

    I hope you tried it! Growing up I was always the “shy one” and I only had 1 close friend. While there is nothing wrong with having a small tight-knit circle (I prefer that still), there is a lot of beauty in people that you miss when you’re so caught up in the social anxiety. For me, it took moving to a new place and deciding “this is where I change.” It was a lot of “fake it till you make it” for a while but now I am quite comfortable interacting with lots of people – I truly think shyness can be changed. My one tip (not that you asked but I’m nosey like that) is that if you focus on the other people it becomes a lot easier. People love to talk about themselves and so at first it was just easier to ask them question after question about their interests, their work etc. Plus I learned a lot! Good luck!! You have all my empathy!

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