In which I accept sweets from and get into cars with strangers

Okay, first order of business here is a MASSIVE THANK YOU for all the birthday wishes this weekend! You guys absolutely made my week and I love you all!! Also? BEST. BIRTHDAY CAKE. EVER.

So, moving on, one of my tasks on the 26 Before 26 was to meet new people, branch out and make new friends. Pardon me while I get a little deep for a minute, but I’ve had the experience once before where I’ve put something out into the universe, and the universe has abruptly halted whatever it was in the middle of only to deliver in abundance. In situations where I’ve suddenly decided I didn’t like something about the way I was living, and actually declared I was going to bloody well do something about it, things seemed to… kind of just fall into place? I don’t know what to chalk it up to, but the universe is proving to be a supremely awesome listener/provider.  One of the things I’ve been uncomfortable with in my life lately is the lack of really close friendships.  There are people I absolutely adore… but have moved away for education, still live back in England, or I just don’t see as often as I’d like to here in the city. And I want to change that this year. I want BFFs, dammit!

So, in the last week or so, things have started changing. New people have started cropping up at every turn, and with them (hopefully!) the opportunity to build the foundations of new friendships.  It started just over a week ago when someone who’d originally been a Facebook suggestion (You have 8 friends in common!  Surely you know each other!) turned into a weekly penpal with whom I started exchanging emails for the past couple of months. We shared all sorts of interests, and he recommended the book I’m currently reading (and ADORING) on life, purpose and seeing the world differently. (Review to come!) Long story short, we met in person last weekend – and proceeded to chat for over three hours about where we grew up, football, science, philosophy, music and personal goals… TOTALLY nerded out, and it wasn’t awkward in the slightest! I really hope this turns into a more regular thing – and I’m still surprised this person still actually showed up after a random ‘hello Internet stranger, you seem awesome, be my friend? kthxbai’ – but as a mid-twenty something in a world where friendship circles already seem to have formed long ago, making new ones calls for something outside the box. Even if that’s at the risk of coming across a total weirdo. I’m very grateful the risk was worth taking and I’m hoping this is the beginning of a great friendship. 🙂

Coincidentally, said recommended book had a part to play in last Tuesday’s event: going out for dinner with one half of the duo that’s going to perform at our wedding in December. I interviewed one half of Keith and Renee a few weeks ago for the magazine that was kind enough to publish me, and Keith used to pop into the post office where I worked back in 200….3? On top of touring the world, travelling to Africa to build schools and water supplies and going across the country promoting positive messages and new albums, he plays in the same church band Sweet does on Sunday nights. Oh, and coincidentally does hot yoga every day, and is totally up for a buddy. Turns out the author of that book I’ve been reading is one of his favourites, too, so we chatted about literature, personal growth and making a difference in the world over dinner. One of the most POSITIVE people I’ve ever met in my life – it was great just to get to know someone so upbeat that little bit better, and with both of these people, it felt more like I was catching up with an old friend I’d had for years than someone I didn’t really know much at all. After dinner he drove me to the bookstore and bought me a book I “had” to have. When I asked why, he said “because you basically quoted the title of the book while we were talking,” and he felt like I was “meant” to have it. What was it called? Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.  If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know how incredibly meaningful and apt that is. I was left with a really good feeling of just finally having the right people on my path, who left me feeling like I could totally be myself, and that was absolutely okay, and full of encouragement, inspiration, and real self belief. I can’t even describe the sense of excitement I felt after two such awesome connections within such a short time frame.

Then came Thursday. The Meetup. I went to the pub to meet a group of “strangers” – the Winnipeg Creative Society ‘Secret Handshake’, who get together once a month for networking and chatting and sharing projects. Sounded totally my cup of tea, so I’d added a few people on Twitter before I went, and since it was around my birthday, what I thought was a  joke about cake and party hats TOTALLY became a reality when I got there.  I ended up quickly surrounded by about 40 people wearing elasticated pink cones on their heads, with a giant carrot cake, candles, all singing me happy birthday!! I “knew” maybe two people, who I’d only been tweeting with for a couple of weeks, and proceeded to chat with a whole bunch of other people about work, about creativity, technology, writing, art and sci-fi.  There were too many people to meet individually, but the ones I did get to connect with were awesome, and as a result I am apparently now starring in one advertisement, one music video, having ice cream with a new neighbour and going to a dance party at a composer’s house, as well as preparing for an ’80s karaoke night in drag. After the cake actually showed up, I’m taking everything entirely at face value. This is going to be fun 🙂  Someone caught some video clips on the night (and edited this on their iphone!!) (including the cake!)

Photos courtesy of Luc Desjardins @ http://www.at-first-sight.ca

I spent so many years consumed with the worry that I wasn’t popular enough, fun enough, or into the same things as most people, worrying about something being wrong with me because I didn’t have those Sex and the City friendships by which I seem surrounded. Only recently, I’ve been learning, writing, and thinking more about the importance of staying true to who you are and letting go of the cares and worries of how big (or small) a social circle is. I think it was shortly after my impromptu blogging rant that I really began to believe and carry out the notion that you shouldn’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not in order to fit in. If you have to carry around a persona that masks your true self, how will you ever have true friends? I spent far too much time prioritising popularity over integrity, and it almost shames me to say it. I guess it’s all part of growing up and finding out who you are. But these days, I’m learning that when you cease to empower societal expectations, almost dictations that you need to look or act a certain way in order to succeed in life, life just starts to become genuine, natural, and incredibly fulfilling. When you choose to let go of what doesn’t matter… the people that do will naturally start to flow in.

I feel blessed right now for the changes happening in my life, and excited about what’s to come in the near future. I sign off today with a song that I feel is quite fitting these days – reflecting a journey from fear to awareness, from old chapters to new journeys, from uncertainty to determination, and of the excitement I feel this very moment.


…Stars, hide your fires, for these here are my desires,
And I won’t give them up to you this time around
And so I will be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul…

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56 comments

  1. You hit the nail on the head! The second we stop focusing on popularity and being likeable is the second that everything falls into place. I am noticing that a lot myself these days as well.. I am so excited for you.. The world is holding its arms out and inviting you in and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you Emily.

    Best,

    Hannah Katy

    1. Awwww thank you, I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realise! Worrying about what other people think and wanting to fit in are so… trivial. I’m really excited about what the future holds 🙂

  2. I think it’s so damaging that when we’re growing up we feel like we have to act a certain way or look a certain way to be loveable. It’s natural to want to be liked, but you can’t please everyone and it’s exhausting to try!

    Being exactly who you are is the only way to be happy… the funny by product is that people are drawn towards real happiness and kindness. Isn’t it weird how that works? 🙂

    I’m glad that you’re in a happy & grounded place, and that you’re working hard towards just being effortlessly you.

  3. Bravo Emily!
    I’m so constantly impressed with your courage! You’re learning things at 25 that I only started to figure out in the past few years.
    The Universe does provide, it’s true. Thank you for the reminder.
    (I’m very interested to know what book you are reading now!)

  4. BEST CAKE!

    also, that meet-up sounds awesome- i’m so happy you’ve been meeting and connecting with new people. i can feel the excitement in your words, and that’s AWESOME!

  5. way to go em you are full of wisdom I can’t believe you are only 25. you’re such an inspiration and so glad things are working out for you and you’re getting to meet awesome ppl you deserve it. they sound like great folks can I come and meet them too? lol happy belated bday, love the cake!!!

  6. You are a beautiful soul inside and out and I’m so happy that you are discovering who you really are.

    Sorry for the belated birthday wishes… I went on a technological hiatus this weekend, which is good for me when I start feeling a little burned out on Twitter, FB, and the like. 😉 Happy, happy birthday! Glad it was a wonderful day for you!

  7. Love the birthday cake; looks like it has a lot of yummy icing which is my favorite part of a cake 🙂 And the fact that you can do the Live Long & Prosper thing with your hands? I’m jealous. I can’t. I look so foolish when I do it.

    HUGE congratulations on the magazine article! So amazing! I can’t imagine how neat it must be to see your name in print like that!!!!

    And happy belated birthday; i avoided the internets for most of the day so sorry for the delayed wishes. Glad you had a lovely day.

  8. Sounds like loads of fun! So happy for you that things were going well. I love getting together with people it’s so easy to click with. It’s just a mood-lifter in general. Very cool. Have you read The Secret? It’s by Rhonda Byrne. I’m an optimistic person, but it was interesting to see how that book views optimism and positive thinking. I also read The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield when I was in high school and that had me thinking all about our energy and how we interact with the world. I truly think if you do open yourself up to opportunities they’ll come your way! 🙂

    1. I will have to add both of those to my reading list! I’ve heard of The Secret but haven’t got my hands on it yet. Definitely lots of interesting theories I’m stumbling across lately! 🙂

  9. hmmm, didn’t your mama tell you not to talk to strangers?

    Kidding 🙂 Cute post. I, too, have found that my best friends in the whole world are those I can be completely comfortable with…no pretending to be better than I am. They accept me as I am.

    What book did this dude recommend?

    Have you read Eat Pray Love, btw? If not, you MUST.

    1. I’ve heard I have to read that! A coworker of mine is reading it right now and just raving about it. The book is called “A New Earth” and I will HAVE to do a review once I’m done 🙂

  10. I never felt much of a need to be popular but I did love my close group of friends. I haven’t had a close group in awhile and I really, really miss it. One of my 101 in 1001 is to make new friends – and hopefully through that I can find a good group again.

    1. Best of luck! And that’s great you never felt the need to be popular – I think as we get older it releases its hold on us and allows us to see what’s really important, like a handful of really awesome friends. Here’s hoping we both find a group again 🙂

  11. Isn’t it a wonderful, slightly terrifying, but ultimately awesome thing to let go of the pretenses and just be yourself?

    I 2nd the motion that you should read “Eat Pray Love”.

    So glad you had a wonderful birthday 🙂

  12. haha that cake is perfect for you! Good luck with your goals. It sounds like you’re definitely moving in the right direction by being yourself 🙂

  13. That sounds beautiful, how you have had so many opportunities to make new friends. Everything really does seem to fall into place.
    And now I know what’s up with those ‘secret handshake’ tweets.

  14. This is so awesome to read, Emily! I really don’t have a close knit of girlfriends who I can chat with and depend on. It’s something that gets me down a lot, especially on weekend nights. It’s really encouraging to see that you were able to get out there and see so much success! Way to go!

  15. Woo! I’m glad things are coming together brilliantly for you, thats so wonderful! And your SO BRAVE! Meeting people from the internet . . . thats on my list too, and I haven’t done it yet, so good on you!

  16. I am so glad that things are coming together for you and you are forming new friendships. I only wish I lived closer so I could take you out for bday drink or cup of tea or something! I need to figure out skype (and get a web came) so we can have a skype date sometime!1

    And congrats on being published. 🙂 So exciting – must feel amazing to see your name in print!

  17. I think we’re going to our first Meetup soon, too! I searched for a couples meet up near us and there is one that does BBQs, puppy meet-ups, etc! Cross your fingers!

  18. I’m glad that you had a wonderful birthday. I haven’t met up with people from the internet. Glad it was a good experience for you.

    And this is SO TRUE: “You shouldn’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not in order to fit in. If you have to carry around a persona that masks your true self, how will you ever have true friends?”

    1. I think when we’re younger, it’s often easier said than done – the way society is it makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us if we don’t have a lot of friends, or if we’re unpopular – it’s kind of one of the reasons I went to the meetup! I think as we grow up a bit though what’s really important comes into view – integrity. It’s a lesson that’s becoming very clear to me that in letting go of worrying about being well liked by a lot of people, and stopping trying to fit in, then people are just flowing in – people who I can really be myself around. I just hope it stays that way 🙂

      1. It’s amazing once you get out and meet new people (like the meetup which was awesome!) how you realize that there are so many people out there who will accept you for who you are. Can’t wait for the next meetup in July!

  19. I’m glad you enjoyed your birthday. 🙂 I also hope to reach a place where I can be completely myself around other (less farmiliar) people. You? Are awesome and I really enjoy reading your posts, and they always make me want to try harder.

  20. What positive revelations, Emily. I’m glad you had a great birthday! Blogging has really helped me to indulge in my own interests and share them with people instead of keeping it all to myself or pretending to people someone I’m not.

    1. I’m really glad to hear that! You can tell how genuine you are on your blog – I love the ones that write about the good as well as the bad, and the struggles as well as the victories – they’re so much more real. Thank you for being you 🙂

  21. Belated birthday wishes beautiful lady, I hope 25 is the best year EVER for you!! It sounds monumental and I bet sometimes you yourself can’t believe how far you’ve come and how much you have achieved in that time. You should be proud, your blog makes me want to reach for the stars as it proves you can get to that happy place.

    That cake is tremendous and just goes to prove being a geek is mucho cool. And something we all love about you 😀

    I love how your FB buddy morphed into an IRL friend. I met one of my Calgary friends via the net last Oct when I was here and it really worked out as we still see each other now. So who says internet friendships can’t work out, I think it’s brilliant. Nodding in agreement too – needing to turn to unconventional methods for friendships. Good luck on your quest for solid BFFs, a lot of us out there feel the same. Oh and that MeetUp looked like a barrel of fun.

  22. Pingback: 2010: Brilliance |

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