Over the days, months and years that we have been dancing Rock n Roll one common statement we receive is "I don't fit in because they are all couples or they are already friends", this usually leads to the question how do I fit in and a discussion whereby the questioner opens up about how they feel lonely, sometimes blaming others for not approaching or being approachable and how the individual feels as though they don't know what to say or don't have the social skills to support fitting in because much deeper they don't have the confidence or esteem in one's self.


These thoughts are quite interesting because this article could take so many different avenues and tangents. It really is quite fascinating because fitting in is only an aspect of a larger topic and can be quite deep and the question we often ask ourselves is "DO WE REALLY HAVE TO FIT IN?"  What this article will focus on, is some tips on how and where to start and once you've made a friend or friends how to keep them. Someone once said to me that to have good friends you have to be a good friend. I guess this is the same as treat others how you would like to be treated and so on. We are not doctors or professional counsellors and this article is definitely not advice but merely reading material to provide some food for thought and avenues for further reading. Fitting in begins with an individual taking ownership of self and responsibility for one's own thougths and actions. So, it is important to be happy with one's own company and some basic tips to put you in the mood to be open to others includes and is not limited too: - Frame your mind to be open to meeting someone new: this could be as simple as not allowing yourself to think negatively of yourself. Radiate positive thoughts and clear your mind of any thoughts that may be detrimental to yourself for example "What will they think of me?". How about start with "What do I think of myself?" and make sure you tell yourself regularly how bright, happy and beautiful you are. Setting yourself some goals to get to know the name of the person who is serving you at the counter when you shop, obtaining a business card or brochure from someone who provides you or may provide you with a service in the future. It would be important to set your self small and attainable goals for instance every day I'll buy one coffee and get to know the name of the person who makes my coffee. Or every week I must connect with 3 services by obtaining a business card, quote or brochure; - Help a friend, family member or colleague: this could be as simple as providing time so that you can listen to them or a shoulder for them to cry on, house sitting, baby sitting. Not only is helping others a really nice thing to do but it shows compassion and when that persons thinks of you, they will remember how nice and helpful you are; - Volunteer your time to a charitable cause, fundrasing group or other: donating your time could also include helping out at a local school with canteen duties or working bees or other school programs, getting involved with local initiatives such as tree planting or clean-up Australia Day; - Frame your mind to be positive: this can all start with a smile, answer the phone with a smile, walk with a smile, exercise with a smile, dance with a smile, talk with a smile and most importantly tell yourself that you are a good person and you look beautiful. Loving oneself is a step toward loving others, being joyful and enjoying ones own company is a step toward being  joyful and enjoying the company of others. Remember we can only control ourselves and not others. The way we think and act is our own. Make small achievable changes through setting small goals to ensure that positive growth to enhance the well-being of mind, body and spirit is implemented for a long time not a short time. There are groups and activities that may be of assistance, so why not try something like YOGA, and remember not all studios and activities are the same, so try a few to find what suits you best. Here is a link to get you going - Yoga and Beyond. - Start with Hello: If you don't know how to start a conversation, begin with HELLO. Hello is a method of greeting, answering a telephone and is a nice conversation starter. From Hello, you could introduce yourself My Name Is....and it's nice to meet you. Or once you've said hello make a positive statement to frame a positive conversation for example nice day, great weather, wonderful training session, lovely and friendly people. You could even ask a question like Have you eaten/been here before? or This place must be popular with all the people here? The Better Health Channel has an article just about How to Make New Friendsand I'd like to share some valuable points from this article about when making friends is difficult. Perhaps it is difficult because an individual is shy or feels as though they lack the social skills to start a converations. Here are some great suggestions on where to start:

  • Join groups that share your common interests. Talking about one of your passions, such as gardening or writing short stories, for example, can help give you confidence to talk about other things with potential new friends.
  • Watch and learn from gregarious people who make friends easily.
  • Practise looking people in the eye when you talk to them.
  • Listen to what others are saying, rather than focusing on your own self-consciousness.
  • Smile.
  • Look for anyone else in the room who seems socially awkward, and approach them for conversation.
  • When you talk to someone new, ask them questions about themselves or what they like to do; it's a good way to get started.
  • Social skills can be learned, so seek professional help if you feel you need it.

Another point more related to dancers and dancing is remember you should all be making friends on the dance floor and not enemies. If you accidently knock or bump into someone on the dance floor your opening line could be "Hello, SORRY for stepping on your foot or bumping into you". You could have a little chuckle and laugh it off with a simple and non harmful suggestion like "yeah I should follow and not lead" or "we were trying to make more room". Another great and more mutually beneficial suggestion is to compliment other dancers off the floor. Your opening line could be "My name is....and I was just watching you dance, I couldn't take my eyes away because you were both....(amazing, great, smooth, nice, enjoying yourself, smiling, having fun etc). In particular reference to the first line of this article most friends may appear like couples or are all single friends that have generally met dancing, so one should never be afraid to pull up a chair and say hello especially when you are in an environment of neutral ground and similar interests like at Rock n Roll dancing at Rydalmere Bowling Club on Friday nights. Many couples are also happy to get to know others and dance with others, we see so many couples partner swapping and having some good times out on the dance floor. With Rock n Roll we should all just be able to "Let the good times Roll" One may surmise that keeping friends is the easy part and to a certain degree this is true and a very good and positive frame to be in. Keeping friends will take time, energy, active listening, activity, compassion, attention, trust and most importantly lots of positive, assertive and non-judgemental style of communication. We would at this point also remember that not all friendships are alike and that there are different types of friendships for example best friends, casual friends, acquaintances, close friends, just a friend that may require different approaches and different levels of maintenance, yes friends are in some ways like a car (not the best metaphor but at least an easy one for the majority of readers to understand)you need to maintain your friendships to ensure that they run smooth and last a long time. Some suggestions are listed below to help you maintain those valued friendships no matter what type:

  • Pick up the phone and say hello; ask your friend questions like how they are, the family, the kids, work etc...
  • Share the good times as well as the bad times; for instance your friend has just had loved one pass away so give your condolences
  • Grab a coffee together or with other friends
  • Schedule sporting or recreational activities together like learning to dance rock n roll or just learning something new in general or experiencing something together
  • Schedule regular either weekly or monthly catch-ups 
  • Host a dinner party or a weekend BBQ to get together with a group of friends
  • Go on a regular holiday with your friend(s) or schedule one every year for a week or weekend
  • Celebrate public holidays together for example Australia Day picnics, Easter Show, New Years Eve in the city or suburbs

The most important aspect is to share experiences with your friends and spend time with your friends to build understanding, empathy, respect and a love for your friends. Experiences and memories result in discussions and conversations and those brilliant REMEMBER WHEN... scenarios! We hope this article has been beneficial and we would truly love to LISTEN to your comments - so please feel free to post positive ones of course! Should one wish to read more theory surrounding the topic of Friendship, then we have discovered a very in depth article by Infed, Doyle, M. E. and Smith, M. K. (2002) 'Friendship: theory and experience', the encyclopaedia of informal education that may interest you. Please Click Here.    

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