in Fun

True Friends, or Fellow Fans?

The two best things in life are doing things that you like and spending time with people you like. If you don’t care about the activity or the people you’re doing it with – why do it at all? Obviously, if you combine these two into enjoying both the activity and the people, then you have the stuff life memories are made of. Yet due to a variety of reasons you usually lack one of the two – preferred friends or  preferred activity.

I’d say the first is more important than the second – with friends, even the most odious of experiences can become treasured. But this is also the most likely obstacle. Due to work, jobs, or a cavalcade of obligations for both parties, the ability to spend time with people you choose doing the activity of your choice is often limited to short tired weeknights or longer adventures on the weekends. It depends how adventurous your social circle is.

Yet this  means that the majority of your waking hours will be spent in the company of people not freely chosen. Instead, they’re individuals who you interact with out of necessity. Coworkers, the people who live in your building, the guy you buy a hot dog from for lunch, and so on.

If you’re lucky, super friendly, or highly compatible, these people can become your friends even while they fufill their roles of worker, housemate, or service person. But those are the happy exceptions rather than the norm – most requisite interactions are marked by polite acquiesence in order to get the job done, not in order to spend undue time with you. Not many people chitchat with the taxi driver or the receptionist.

Alternatively, you could have time and people to play with, but face the problem of your friends not enjoying the same activites you do. A prime example would be friends of mine who I can spend a lovely dinner or bar night with, but would never want to go on a daytrip with, or indeed, partake in most of the things they choose to do with their free time. Then you’d have to search outside of your existing network to find people who like the things you do. Yet this brings with it another problem.

It is the nature of leisure activities to pull people towards them who are also fans of said activity. (duh) But unlike jobs, eateries, or transportation, leisure activites are optional, which means that when choosing recreational activites, you are not just choosing the activity but also the fans – the people you will be spending time with as a result of that activity.

In theory, this is great, because it will introduce you to other people who already have one half of the recipe for happy life memories – they have the same favorite activity you do. But just because you both like the same thing does not mean you will get along – that interest is only one facet of a personality.

You’ve likely seen this firsthand in almost anything you do on the weekends, but here are a few interests of my own with wildly disparate fanbases: the outdoors, electronic dance music, and startups. All of these have different clientile – not exclusively of course, but here are some of the traits I find unusually correlated.

The Outdoors

The people who I often encounter in REI and on hiking trails are usually easygoing, liberal, white, and own mid-sized dogs. I can empathize with them on the above and with national park recommendations, but on matters of personal ambition there is often a disconnect. I’ve noticed over the years that many of them are content to spend their lives entirely in the mountains as wilderness guides. I knew one guy who was fine doing part time jobs he was apathetic about for most of the year because it gave him the money and time to get back on the slopes during winter. That’s fine for him, but I want to accomplish more in my life than a list of mountains summitted. I can’t talk matter of business or productivity with most people I meet on the trail.

Electronic dance music

Fans of these genres are usually millenials like me, but if the concerts and raves I’ve attended are any indication, they have a lot more tattooes, piercings, and interest in recreational drugs than I do. I can connect with many of my peers on a deeply passionate level through song and artist commiserations, but outside of music, I have almost nothing to talk about. You can see this just by browsing Soundcloud comments and seeing how many needless drug or sex references there are.

Entrepreneurship

These are the people I get along with the most. Since self betterment is a philosophy that encompasses a wide range of lifestyle choices rather than what you listen to or do on the weekends, I have a lot more to talk about with fellow wantrepreneurs. We can trade productivity tis, book recommendaitons, personal creations or writings, and so forth. If I had to find a problem with this group of people it’d only be that some of them are overly business minded. It’s not common, but some are in it for the money and prestige – they could take a lesson from the outdoors group on lightening up and having fun.

Knowing the above about my fellow  fanbases, I take care to cultivate my personal brand to be a lantern that attracts the kind of moths I want to hang out with. You’ll notice my website isn’t devoted to the outdoors or music – that’s not just for professional reasons. On the trail I mention the other adventures I’ve had, in the club the other concerts I’ve been to, and at conferences my website and the book I wrote. Only as the connection grows do you start to learn about the rest of me. Rightly so – having friends with one deep but narrow interest in common would get old quickly, whereas those with many mutually preferred activites lead to long fruitful friendships spent doing varied things we both care about.

Are you conscious of the ways your interests bring you into contact with likeminded people? Which of your fellow fanbases has the most in common with you?