I was thinking the other day about how so many of my interests have been influenced by friendship.
Certainly not all of them. I’ve been a reader, writer, and musician since I was seven, and those interests have remained steadfast in the intervening years. But even those interests were encouraged by someone, only the someone in this case was my mother, who made sure we had a piano and piano lessons, who took me to the library twice a month and read aloud to me every day, who came into my first grade classroom and taught us all how to write stories using those newfangled personal computers. Likewise, I started hiking as soon as I could walk because it was a family activity. I started playing board games and computer games because my dad and sister liked them, I started liking travel when my dad took me to Paris, etc.
But even now as an adult, I find my interests evolve and deepen in interesting ways based on my friends.
I’d gotten kind of sick of board games. I really liked BSG, but otherwise wasn’t very enthusiastic. But then a friend of mine invited me to a game night and introduced me to Dominion, which I enjoyed, and I made other friends there who introduced me to other games I really liked too. And then I began to seek out games myself and talk to other people who also liked games and gave me their recommendations. And before long, I knew a fair amount about board games.
I’ve always loved music, but I didn’t used to go to hardly any live shows. I didn’t go to my first proper rock concert until I was twenty-three, and in one of the greatest serendipitous acts of my life, bumped into a friend of mine in Vienna who was going to get tickets to see U2, who were one of my very favorite bands.
But it wasn’t until much later that I began to go to shows more regularly. My friend invited me to one, and I tried it out and discovered I loved it. So I went to another, then another. I asked how he kept track of all the dates and he introduced me to Songkick. And now I go to a show probably every month or so.
Same thing with theater. I liked theater a lot, and once I taught musical theater, I made an effort to go to more shows. But I started liking theater even more when I made a friend who is hugely knowledgeable about theater and always knows what’s playing and can discuss the show at length with me afterwards. And so I started going more.
And we mustn’t forget dancing. I started dancing originally because of musical theater. And then I stopped. And then I began dancing when I lived in London because my stepmom at the time knew of a good class she thought I’d like. And then I moved back to the States and I stopped. And then I heard about blues dancing multiple times, but at first I thought, “Oh, partner dancing,” and then later I thought, “Too many injuries.”
But then I was no longer injured (hooray!) and my good friend had started dancing a lot, and I became curious. So I told her to let me know sometime I could come with her. And I fell in love, and that was a year ago now.
Thinking of all these interests I’ve rediscovered and/or deepened through my friends, I feel very lucky. By sharing the things they love, they’ve made my life so much richer.
Next up? I’m on the lookout for a movie friend. I can usually find someone to watch the latest action flick with me, but none of my three favorite movies from last year were big blockbusters. I heard about one from a new acquaintance by chance, and by chance I was also with a friend who wanted to see it at the time, so we went (What We Do in the Shadows). And at that movie I saw the preview for another movie I wanted to see (Mr. Holmes). And at that movie, I saw the preview for another movie I wanted to see, and that movie ended up being my favorite of the year (The End of the Tour). So having a friend (or friends) to help with the discovery of these types of movies (and talk to me about them afterwards) would be incredible.
And in the meantime, I will continue to marvel at the way our friends end up influencing us in so many different ways.