Multi-speed Friending

Okay, I’m just going to say it. I attended a multi-speed friending event. My reasons were 2-fold.

The following is not something people go around saying out loud or, oh I don’t know, writing in a blog post, but I bet a lot of people think it to themselves. Especially those in a similar situation to me. That is that I would quite like to make some more friends am interested in expanding my social circle.

I’ve touched on this before elsewhere on the site, as both of my readers will know, but when you’re in you’re early 30s and all your friends are married/babied, then going for an impromptu pint is out of the question. Pencilling one into the diary 8-10 weeks in advance? Not a problem. Spur of the moment after work? Forget it. Which is fair enough. Their various offspring need them more than I do. Probably.

So how does one go about expanding their social circle in London in 2018? You go out by yourself and you go up to people and you say:

Hey, how’s it going? Mind if I join you?

I am of course joking. This is an act which will almost certainly result in your being sectioned.

In reality, what you do is swallow your pride and work up the courage to attend a (let’s face it) excruciatingly named event called speed friending or multi-speed friending. The other thing you do is incessantly tell yourself you’re doing it because you’ve joined a course that’s called a Launchpad and that because you’re now a Career Shifter and so this gives you an excuse to do all kinds of weird sh*t under the guise of ‘because the career coaches told me to’.

And there is certainly a substantial element of that going on here. Which brings me to the second of the 2 folds:

It’s helping me make connections. I will never figure out what my career path should be by trying to figure it out. I need to get out into the world. Talk to people. Random people. Any people. Give ‘fate’ a chance and you never know who knows what and who knows who and how that might give you a new idea.

Now, my natural tendency towards introversion means my ‘connecting muscle’ needs to be continually worked. I’ve woken it up in recent weeks but I could totally see how it’s gym membership could lapse and before I know it, it becomes an obese blob covered in Dorito dust and surrounded by old chicken bones. That metaphor got a bit strange there but I’m going to stick with it.

Grotesque imagery aside, I went multi-speed friending and what basically happens is there are tables of 3 people and one person at a time circulates around the tables for (I think) 4 minutes until they move on to the next one. Since I had done the one-to-one version of this previously, I was slightly less scared and nervous attending this one, but – and I can’t stress this enough – as I approached the door to the bar, well… let’s just say a few choice thoughts ran through my head:

  1. This was an horrendous idea
  2. It will be cheesy and awkward
  3. Why am I doing this to myself?
  4. Who needs friends, anyway?
  5. I’m sure I could learn to love my job if I really tried?
  6. I should’ve consumed a vat of gin to take the edge off

As it turns out, it was a fun afternoon. People were friendly and interesting and, almost unbelievably, they were normal. After the event, I went out with a few of them for some drinks followed by dinner. Something I could not possibly have conceived of beforehand but this is why I have to keep trying new things. Because every time I do, I prove to myself that what’s in my head is almost always a misrepresentation of reality and each time I do something new, something that involves extensive interaction, I know that the next time – even if it’s just by 1% – it will be slightly easier.

A bestselling author. A guy who plays a major part in the development of the Snapchat app. An extra from a reality TV show. A doctor. These are a few of the people I met and although I don’t know that any of them can help me directly with my career shift, it does serve to highlight the breadth of people that an event such as this could see you encounter.

Would I go to another one? I probably would. Perhaps not for a while but who knows. It’s all about keeping the connecting muscle active and trying to be more outgoing by pushing the limits of what I’m comfortable doing.

I didn’t go to this event thinking “right, I want to make 2 new friends and meet 3 new people who work in x industry otherwise this night will have been a failure”. I just went into it thinking “I hope this isn’t going to be worst day of my life” and you know what? That kind of thinking really takes the pressure off.

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