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No more Norma No Mates!

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Ok, I jest....I do have friends, but I would like to have more of them. Life is busy, people don't always have similar schedules and responsibilities and life can get pretty damn lonely at times.

My niece has now flown the nest, off to the wild party town of Galashiels (if you're not from Scotland the irony of that comment will be lost on you). Finding it hard to walk past her empty, and now much tidier bedroom. If you've read my previous blogs you'll know what my midlife adventure project is all about. If not, here's a quick re-cap:

I'm a forty something woman who is really struggling with re-discovering who I am, now that the all encompassing role of "mum" is no longer so much a part of my life. Super proud of my kids, their friends and growing independence...but for me personally, it's a very hard adjustment to my own life. Also on the lookout for a new career path and not sure what that will be yet. This project is giving me a new focus, pushing me out of my comfort zone, and helping me have fun and improve my mental health. I hope my adventures may inspire other people going through challenging times.

August's adventure has so far been cancelled three times due to weather conditions. I am not saying what it was, as I still hope that at some point it will happen. However, considering we are now past the Scottish summer and the weather was still considered unfit...losing hope a little!

In writing there's often the question asked if you're a planner or a pantser (meaning do you plan your writing out before starting, or work without any outline at all). I'm normally very much a planner, but here I am, a beginner pantser having to change things about depending on schedules, costs, who's available to join me...or the weather. I think it's doing me good.

So, without further late adventure for August took place on Saturday at Muffin Break in Glasgow's St Enoch Centre. I headed off to catch the train a little nervous for the day ahead. The Glasglow Girls Club took over the shopping centre for the weekend, with many different events and workshops. Kind of gutted I missed the silent disco, but the one I was booked in for was Speed Friending. The concept being similar to speed dating, but to potentially meet your new BFF.

Muffin Break is a cafe in St Enoch and it was soon clear by the pink high vis vests worn by the organisers that I was definitely in the right place. A small section was cornered off for the speed friending, and I was pleased that there were not a huge number of attendees. Laura, the Glasglow Girls Club founder explained that was a deliberate decision so as not to be too overwhelming.

At tables for 2 we helped ourselves to a buffet of sandwiches, snacks, and of course the delicious muffins the venue is famed for. A few glasses of prosecco helped calm the nerves which I was relieved to hear was a common theme for pretty much everyone there. Turns out there are many woman, of all ages and backgrounds who would like to make new friends. To be honest this was a wake-up call I needed, it's easy to assume that by a certain age, you've made your friends for life and no one else is in the same position. Social media doesn't help this assumption either, but as always, it's so important to remember that people nearly always only post the positive, happy moments they share with people, it's never the whole picture.

photo by @shotsbysherrie

After our afternoon tea it was time for the speedy part. Swapping seats we were asked to chat to each person for 9 minutes, then Laura would clink a glass to let us know to move on to the next person. Each table had Ice Breaker questions to help get conversations going, but for me personally I found it easier just to chat about whatever came up. Some of the reasons people had chosen to attend were being new to Glasgow and not knowing people, wanting to make friends of their own (not just mutual with partners), leaving jobs and no longer socialising with colleagues, or like myself, adapting to empty nest syndrome.

I learned more about the Glasglow Girls Club and what they offer through either a social or business membership. You can also attend events as a non-member as I did. I am seriously considering joining as I can see it is a very supportive community with a variety of fun, engaging events. I was genuinely surprised to hear that an event to make new friends had been by far the biggest request by members of their community. I can't help but feel that Covid and the enforced lockdown has contributed to this collective loneliness, and that probably many people are now quite happy staying home when they would have been out socialising before. I find it sad to think about.

Heading home after a lovely afternoon I found myself over-analysing the things I'd said, my inner critic kicking in. I don't find it that easy to talk to people I don't know, and gaps in conversation make me feel awkward. As a result I often think I'm talking rubbish (even if I'm not). This over-thinking malarky is no fun at all...I've since spoken to other women about this, and they've experienced the same thing. The lesson I'm taking from this is that many of us (especially women) are far too self-critical and forget that often, the other person is also struggling to make conversation and may also be worried about what they're saying. Maybe the key is to just be yourself and you'll be fine. I do know that discussing my goat yoga midlife adventure seemed to go down well!

Photos by @shotsbysherrie

Some more background about Glasglow Girls Club from founder Laura Maginess:

"As the founder of the Glasglow Girls Club Facebook group, which currently comprises over 40K women from Glasgow and beyond, I am always looking out for key themes that pop up in the group and work to create events and content to suit. The ethos of our community is to encourage both professional and personal growth and so social listening in the group is key to enable us to do this.

Friendship, specifically our members seeking to make new friends, is regularly being discussed in the community and so we wanted to create events that were exclusively focused on the women who attend making new friends.

When the GGC brand first launched, speed networking for business owners was a focus. I loved the energy of these events and how the format helped to remove the awkwardness that many of us feel when walking into a networking event. I wanted therefore to recreate this in a social setting, where the speed networking changed from a business focus to a friendship focus and so our afternoon tea speed friending events came to be.

We ran these during the GGC takeover of the St Enoch, as we had lots going in the centre that the ladies who attended the event could then go on and enjoy together, to continue getting to know each other and I was more than delighted to see our attendees do this!

At every event the GGC runs, we actively encourage ladies to come along alone to as we know they will leave new GGC pals. Our Rooftop Brunch Clubs at the Radisson Red are becoming are key event in the diary for new friendships being made and this is further encouraged by our chat rooms in our Facebook group too."

Next adventure booked and not weather dependent, so keep following my journey....

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