How to Make Friends Like an Introvert

So it’s been 4 years now I have moved to the UAE from the UK. Although I have lots of family here (albeit inlaws) I have yet to replace good friends from the UK. It’s a hard task to do especially difficult when you don’t work and the only people you meet are passerby type. The friends I have accumulated over the years have pretty much come from school, college, university and then work. Now a stay at home mom, I am not in a scenario where I see people day in day out for long periods of time like I did in other organisations, I feel I’m left to fend for myself. In a country where I didn’t grow up, I don’t have my catalogue of friends that I can just hang with.  Another  weird realisation was that I hadn’t made much friends from my neighbourhood growing up. I always went to a school that was just enough far away that all my friends lived in a different area code. I only met my friends at school. At college and univeristy again I went to a different city to study and all my friends lived far. Now in my 30’s I’m finding it difficult to just say hey to anyone as I’m not used to just doing that.

Having three kids I’m so much aware of how introverted I am and how much I don’t want my kids to face the same problems I faced or face even now. So I have made up my mind that I will push myself to get out of my comfort zone in a mission to seek meaningful friendships. If you don’t seek you won’t find right?

So here’s my plan of how to make friends when you’re naturally introverted .

1. Go out more regular, to the same places, then you’ll likely to meet the same people who have similar interests to you. E.g.I have started going to the coffee mornings at my daughters school. Although all the moms I meet are not normally people I would hang out with you see familiar faces and you start to build a rapport and soon enough you see them in a different light to than when you first met them.

Also I hang out a lot more in the playground of the school. I used to shoot of home because I had lot more mundane things to do. However now on my self proclaimed ‘bff mission’ I pretend to give my kids more time to play on the jungle gym while I am actually giving more time to myself to get out of my comfort zone and meet more people. I see my kids feeling shy around kids at first, playing around kids, not asking their names, not even saying a word when kids push in front of them and they continue waitting patiently for their turn on the swing. They remind me of myself at that age not speaking up when kids jumped the line. Just after a few extra afternoons spending time there Ive seen such a difference in my kids behaviour. They are more adventurous, taking more risks, going higher and higher up on the gym, they have started to play with kids who they don’t know, have made relationships with older kids and enjoy the experience much more even though its awkward sometimes. They used to always look at me like a safety net, looking at me for my approval at every little step they went higher. Now they’re busy playing and interacting that they don’t even see me or run away from me least they hear me telling them it’s time to go. And me? I’ve made a few friends that I talk to with the extra 20 minutes that I spend at the end of the day. No one is in a rush to get anywhere everyone has their kids playing with each other so we have a common bond. I’ve joined several parents whatsap groups but nothing as satisfying as having a friend who you can talk about anything or nothing about. We mostly talk about kids,  struggles of being a mom, the traffic, the weather and homework. So still looking for the one.

2. Get involved in the community, do a fundraiser, collecting clothes, offering your services, get yourself known. People will soon associate you with a friendly face and you are bound to meet like minded people. During Ramadan the Islamic holy month of fasting, I organised a fridge for workers in our community. Labourer where offered to come and pick up free food. The whole community chipped in, it was amazing. This is the kind of people I want to hang out with. People were knocking on my door all throughout the day, asking what was needed,bringing food, new faces, regular faces it was so heartwarming. It was amazing, but after the month had finished, it all kind of fizzled out. Now I can’t wait for next Ramadan for that community feel.

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Ramadan fridge

3. Make a group on Facebook just to start with eg book club, moms group, coffee mornings, toddler group, bikers group gardeners group, fitness group walking with your buggy group, whatever interests you and keep it up, turn up at meetings regularly. Swap numbers and there you go. I’ve joined a ton of groups that are local to me and met up women in big groups and on individual level, I found some real friends, so really recommend this.

4. Go to your local park go on regular walks that’s the only way you’ll meet new people who have time on their hands. Strike a conversation and see where it leads you. I take the kids out more regular to the park in our area and they have made so many friends who invite them back to their house and they come over to our house. I’ve made friendships with their moms so win win.

5. Go knock on your neighbours door, introduce yourself if you’re new in the area. Ask any questions you have where’s the nearest…( you fill in the blank) and offer them tea and coffee with them the next day so that’s one friend you’ve made at least. Offer to help them whenever they need anything and you’re as good as gold!

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Get to know your neighbours

Those are my ideas and so far the joining groups and getting involved in the community has been the most successful for me.

Let me know your ideas and suggestions on making new friends and any problems you have faced when moving into a new city.

Books: People I Want to Hang Out With

I’ve recently realised how much I have missed reading books. This is mainly because, I don’t get the luxury of sitting in a place more than 5 minutes, without being summoned or tugged at by my three delightful kids. I let my book reading obsession dwindle for a decade and only recently I thought you know what? I will be wild, and I will buy a book and see if I can manage to read it! I know, crazy mom living on the edge, right? I had deprived myself of books for so long that when I went in a bookstore I spent hours musing over shelves and shelves of books I want to read, I realised how much I missed it. It felt so satisfying to own a book after so long, with no added feeling of guilt that it won’t be used because I just couldn’t wait to sit and read and read and read. I romanticised in my head how I will read to the wee hours till I finish one in one sitting, like I did as a teenager. I would read one book after another like a monkey clasping at branches swinging through a jungle. Oh but wait, those days are gone! I barely read a sentence before getting interrupted. At night when I have less disturbances, all I can manage is a couple of pages before conking out, from sheer exhaustion of the long day.

I have been hunting out more bookstores and creeping on books that I want to read and absorb in an instant. Actually scrap that, I don’t want to absorb the words in an instant, I want to brew in the pages. I love the journey of growth and the change of mindset where you get the ‘ah ha’ moment. However, my list of things I want read is taking over my notes, I really need to increase my reading speed somewhere in between an instant and a page a day. So I have promised myself more reading, less Netflix and mindless social media trawling and instead, I will try to substitute it with clasping at my books.

Reading a book, an actual book with pages, no kindle nonsense, has such a calming effect on me. It might be because we are surrounded by touch screens and bright lights and gadgets and gizmos all the time, that a simple book gives a breathe of life to such tech concentrated lives. It maybe that its nostalgic and reminds me of my childhood. Or it could just be that I like the idea of being bookish and geeky.  Whatever the reason it feels great to read. It feels like I’m actively participating in conjuring up images in my head. In grasping the ideas. There is no dumbing down of ideas to manipulate the masses, like news and social media. It doesn’t feel like I am cramming my brain with mindless junk.

So anyway the point to this isn’t that I love reading, of course l love it! It goes hand in hand with my coffee, like a perfect friendship. Not marriage, because I am married to coffee, no one and nothing can take that place. No, the reason why I write this is because books have filled that gapping hole in my life where I meet people that I actually want to be around. The like minded warrior women that I wish I was friends with. The women that inspire me to be better, to raise my standard, to aim higher, to not accept mediocre, to not sabotage myself and those women empower me, those women are my tribe. The books that I choose are full of information that I want to indulge in. I am learning, I’m surrounding myself with great thinkers, I’m being exposed by their life wisdom. When I pick up a book I hear the authors’ voice as they cram their lives into the little pages. I feel their presence, the books ARE the authors’, they ARE the people I want to hang out with.

So here’s my list of books/ people I’d most like to hang out with. No surprise then, my list comprises of non fiction books written by fierce influential women.

1. ‘I am Malala’ by Malala Yousafzai.

Wow this is such a powerful book. As a woman and a mother of two daughters I am drawn to Malala’s gutsy story naturally. At such a young age she is such a strong and bold thinker. I was curious to know how she was shaped into being so brave and outspoken. I wanted to know how she was different to any of the thousand of girls who were in her shoes. Out of so many pakistanis who duck their heads daily from menacing threats that hang over them for basic rights such as  education how did she became so fearless? In the western world so many people live in a situation that they hate and it might not be life threatening but they just put up with it. Malala doesn’t. Even when it means risking her own life. She is a stark reminder to all of us that we do not have to go with the mainstream. We can fight against it, even if we are one voice. As long as we have free will we have choice and it might feel like a mammoth task but we should never forget that we have a voice and we should never fail to us it. The people of power threaten to silence one voice because they know it will lead to people raising their own voice. They go to so much trouble in weeding out people because they know the power of a single voice and what it inspires. So next time when you think that you are not enough to change your situation remind yourself that you are. One person can change your world don’t wait for a hero, be your own hero.

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I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

2. ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Ms Gilbert captivates the masses with her style of writing. I was hooked by ‘Eat Pray Love’ which I haven’t seen the movie or read the book but listened to the audio book, which I am not ashamed to admit. Im a obsessive book lover as you may have noticed and so didn’t think I would like audiobooks. So when I experienced my first audiobook with ‘Eat Pray Love’ I was like oh yes! Maybe because I had no time to read and thought this is a great way into listening to so many books in so little time. Or maybe because Lizzie is a badass story teller that she made the experience so much more enjoyable. So anyway I digress the fact is I became a fangirl of Liz and her great charismatic charm that I had to just know what she wants to say in Big Magic. This book may feel like that its just for creatives but its not. Its for everyone. Everyone, that is who wants to bring a dose of magic into their lives. She talks about creativeness as being spiritually guided and I can see how it is good for the soul. Her tone is conversational throughout and she gives a straight talk with no BS of how you shouldn’t fear living a creative life. We self sabotage ourselves into a negative spiral of how we cannot possibly do something before the idea even takes of the ground. We are our own worst enemy and we should silence that demon inside our head and do whatever we feel like doing that makes us feel alive. Run with an idea and see wear it leads you, take the leap you never know where you will end up without trying. Pick up passions that you left dormant its never to late. What is life if not a series of moments where we took chances than 70 years of doing the same thing over and over.

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Being creative means letting go of your own fears of failing.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

3. ‘Rising Strong’ by Brene Brown.

I first stumbled across Brene on Ted Talks where she was total badass researcher. She’s a funny witty and strong woman, I was sold. I want her in my gang. So I picked up Rising Strong expecting it to be about how to raise my girls in a bold way. This book isn’t about how not to be vulnerable but by facing up to our vulnerability we conquer it and rise above it so that it doesn’t paralyse us. By showing our vulnerability we are being more open and genuine not just to other people but to ourselves. we are living a real life and not a charade of who we should be with an armour that shrouds us everyday that we are scared to be ourselves. i grew up in a home where we hardly talked about our feelings our emotions till it came catastrophically crashing down. We never gave out hugs to each other growing up or said I love you. If we had a problem we would bury it inside and deal with it ourselves thus never exposing our vulnerability. By doing this we isolated ourselves from the people that actually love us. This book brings back so many emotions for me of how vulnerability is not a bad thing and it can actually make you a better person.

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No fear of being vulnerable, you are now unstoppable.

Rising Strong

Those are my companions for now who hang with me in my down time. My tribe will grow and I will write about them if and when I meet them. Till then let me know in the comments who is in your gang? Who do you hang with and can I borrow them?

5 Easy Ways to Kick Ass at Resolutions.

Happy 2017! A new year, a new promise of greater things. You’re all pumped up and have a spring in you step of new beginnings, new habits, new life, new YOU.

The resolution lists are out, they are long, they are crisp and they have us buzzing.

But how to kick ass this 2017?

How to make sure that those resolutions are not a cliche and are not dwindling come February 1st. Take your resolutions on a revolution!

Here are 5 easy ways to kick start and kick ass this year. Here we go…

  1. Create a mantra a song to get you in the mood every morning. It doesn’t have to rhyme or have smart words its just something that keeps you focused. My mantra when I want to pull myself out of a rut and stay positive is sing with my girls. Our song? well its simple and goes like this… “Are we gonna have a good day?” and they shout at me “yes we are!!!”then” Are we gonna be happy? yes we are!!!” and we march out of bed and get our shit together. It really works!
  2. Organise you’re brain. Write down why you are doing what you are doing this is your intention of this new thing that you are trying to achieve. When you have a purpose, an intention and clear goals set out you are more likely to succeed. Keep your brain engaged on why you are doing it and the how will naturally manifest. Jot down things you have to do on your phone or planner so your brain is clear of these lists and things to do this will make you more focused and clearer in your goals.
  3. Work on it everyday. Make your goals big but the steps need to be daily attainable goals. It takes 21 days to build a habit but if you get so daunted by the goal and how big a task it is you are less likely to stick to it. For me on my positive road mindset I say to myself I won’t use negative language. This comes with lots of minor hurdles I can’t be zen straight of the bat its daily things I do to reach that personal goal.
  4. The goal is not the end. In fact the goal is the beginning its a point where you can measure your progress but it doesn’t finish. You have to keep at it if you can do it for 21 days you can do it for 3 months if you can do it for 3 months you can do it 6 months and a year and you continue to push yourself and push yourself.
  5. Tell a friend. When you tell someone of your intentions you are not only being accountable to yourself but you’re being accountable to someone else that you are making a promise that you want to attain something. When they see you going of track, if their a good friend they will call you up on it and veer you back without shaming you and reminding you that everyone has bad days but let the day not become a year.

Those are 5 top ways that I will kick ass this 2017!

Let me know what you intend to do this year and your ways you will make 2017 the year where it all begins and not where it ends.