The Art of Making Friends (When You Don’t Speak Their Language Yet)

“I’m not sure if you are trying to be my friend or if you are trying to kill me,” I panted to my new acquaintance, in the middle of the torture fitness class she’d invited me to attend.

“I am a friend, I promise,” she replied with a laugh. We were both sweating, but I felt like I was the only woman in the room who couldn’t get her breath. The women were like goddesses or Wonder Woman (Wonder Women?) The older gentleman assistant said, “Calm,” to me. As in, it’s okay to slow down. Maybe he was worried I was going to keel over and die. I was worried about that!

The Pena de Bernal shrouded in fog, because making friends can be a challenge at times.

Sometimes, trying to make friends feels like an uphill battle of epic proportions.

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When Someone invites you, you always say Yes

Much like the Ghostbusters saying, “when someone asks you if you’re a God, you say yes!” You also say yes to invitations when you are in a new place, no matter how scared, anxious, or uncomfortable you might feel (this isn’t advice for if someone asks you to do something shady, obviously, just normal, everyday stuff. Like if someone asks you to go out for coffee, say yes). It was advice given to by my expat friends for here and it’s wise for general use, as well.

I joined a gym solely to make friends with the moms who invited me to work out with them. I don’t even mind. I’m not anti-working out (I’m just anti-losing-weight-being-on-a-diet-and-having-unhealthy-body-image). In fact, I used to run a fair amount about 15 years ago and I finished two marathons. That’s my crowning jewel of athletic achievement. My best time was running a 5K in 29:30, a feat I cannot repeat today.

Once I started getting good at running (when I could run 1 mile or more without stopping), I ended up enjoying it. I have always loved 5K races and even 4-milers. That ability slowly slipped away when I got a regular 40 hour per week desk job and with my undiagnosed celiac, I couldn’t keep up. I was always so tired.

If you have an autoimmune disease, you understand that tiredness. It is somewhat like the tiredness of having a newborn and not getting enough sleep, but also comes accompanied by intense brain fog. I had several years where I really struggled and yet felt like I shouldn’t be struggling because I obviously wasn’t really sick. Except I was. Once I regained my health many months after my diagnosis,  I still didn’t back into exercising often. I hated that I couldn’t even run a quarter of a mile without feeling like I was going to die. However, I still did yoga sporadically and I did that occasionally up until moving to Mexico.

a picture of the author, wearing glasses and laying down on white tile. Her hair is light brown and a mess around her.

Me, when I was feeling blue. Not like now when I have endorphins.

Realizing This Is SO Good for Me (and for making friends)

One mom friend does the more difficult (for me) classes, like spinning and box (box is trying to kill me, I swear it!) The other mom friend does yoga, which is more my style. I just took it for the first time and discovered it was still really difficult. Except, it’s easier for me at this time. Yoga mom friend doesn’t speak English. Yoga teacher speaks a little English (and the fact that she tried some made me feel SO very welcome in her class, even as it also makes me feel like I stand out like a sore thumb). I believe I will be able to pick up new words and maybe a better listening comprehension by taking these classes.

It’s a win-win-win. I make friends, get stronger, and improve my Spanish. All because I was willing to try a new thing.

*I may or may not be under the influence of endorphins while writing this post!

What new things have you tried that led to a positive experience? What new things haven’t panned out as well?

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