Last weekend, I embarked in the age old practice of making new friends, although I’ve noticed some differences in the process since I was a child. Number one: there is no such thing as “making friends” when you hit 30. Suddenly it’s called “Networking”. You’re obviously not going out in a social forum to meet your new best friend, because we’re old now: we should have 10 best friends already. And we couldn’t possibly be socializing for the sake of making a new running partner or coffee/current events companion. No no no!!! WE ARE HANGING OUT TO NETWORK! We are socializing as a way to making “connections” so that when we need something in relation to our CAREERS, we are ahead of the game. “I’ve been to 13 networking events this year! I’m a shoo-in for a promotion at _______ because of my connections over there!”.
Number two: they are now calling dating websites = social networking avenues, because God forbid, we break the system down to what we’re really looking for. OLD AND NEW FRIENDS, LOVERS, BAKING PARTNERS, RUNNING GROUPS, FOREIGN FILM AFICIONADOS- these are the basic reasons people log onto Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or attend work/school events. TO BRANCH OUT, TO MEET NEW PEOPLE, TO DIG DEEPER ROOTS.
But maybe I’m just wrong about all of this.
Last week I attended a work “networking” event, which was at the House of Air in San Francisco, a trampoline gymnasium including dodge ball, basketball, trick space, and just plain ol’ trampoline fun. Who can be serious or network when they are jumping up and down on an elastic mat, surrounded by 4th graders??? Obviously, quite a few people, actually. Whereas, I tried all of the activities the center was offering, including dodge-ball against a class of 4th graders who made it their LIFE MISSION to get me out first, my co-workers and fellow contractors, hung out on the sidelines…chatted, texted….made small talk including, “so what office do you work for?”, “how is it over in your building?”, “how long have your been working on your contract?”….um….that’s sounds like some really interesting conversation. Exactly what I want to do on a Friday night.
Because the event was followed up by drinks and pizza at a local Irish bar, I already knew from my observations at the trampoline center, that our next few hours weren’t going to be taking shots and bonding over our love/hate relationship with American Idol. Even with free booze and free grungy pizza, everyone remained composed and civil, still managing to talk about our hopes for a government resolution, and whether or not we could be doing more for our clients. I did my BEST to not get trashed (it only takes about 2 beers now…lightweight Sally, over here!) or dance to the awesome pop music medley that was blasting from the speakers. I tried to stay focused and engaged with the absolutely DULL conversations about whateverthatisn’tfunorterriblyinteresting to not appear rude and to seem delightfully aware and up-to-date.
But when I left, I realized that the friends I have are the friends I want. I must keep my relationships strong and resilient because what I have worked towards with my Bubble: loyalty, friendship, compassion, laughter, love- is the essence of who I am and what I love. I might not make any new people to add to this group because we’re apparently past that part of our lives- however, I respect the energy and dedication that has been established thus far in my current friendships, and will tolerate the networking scene with strangers until I make it to my next Tahoe weekend or Vegas get-away with my homies. Fact.