This past weekend (well, yesterday and the day before yesterday), I spent a LOT of time just hanging out with a group of friends. Pretty much the usual lot, really. And I had such a great time. At the end of the day, I wrote a status message on facebook saying “I think I have finally realized the fun of just hanging out with people… Of course it has to be the right kind of people 🙂”
The truth is, I’ve never really been a hang-out kind of person, and bad experiences in the past have led me to generally despise planning outings with people or going places with other people. I used to prefer going alone to events, movies, shops… I told myself I preferred travelling alone AND I preferred staying home or in my room than “socializing”. In a way, I was rather anti-social. I don’t like crowds, I’d rather keep my thoughts to myself, I never quite understood people who would be “hanging out” all the time.
So what changed? Well, I think a combination of growing up, living abroad (alone), a little heartbreak and opening up to this great bunch of people are some of the most important factors.
Then the question came from another friend, why do you NEED to hang-out and what do you DO when you hang-out? She mentioned that she needs to explain this to her mom, and funny enough I’ve had similar experiences with MY mom. She thinks hanging out is a waste of time, which is probably also why I don’t usually hang-out much.
Well, 06:30 on a Monday morning having only slept roughly five hours and 30 minutes, I replied to this comment… first with random things like “to not be anti-social (hey, after all, human beings are social creatures!), to wind up (it’s been a rather tough week at work, as usual), to share stories (obviously, d’oh!)” but then I came up with THE answer, partially inspired by my all-time favorite quote from Girl, Interrupted –> Sometimes, the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy.
And so, why do we NEED to hang-out? In order to keep sane by spending some time going insane with a group of people! Because it’s always better to laugh your heads off when you’re with other people (imagine laughing out loud on your own — in public!) and in fact things are more hilarious when you share them with others.
Case in point, while we were sitting on a bench at the chocolate festival yesterday (we stayed at the bench for more than 3 hours, I think), we watched as helium balloons were flying off to the sky. It started with a Winnie the Pooh balloon stuck at a nearby tree. If I was alone, it might have made me smile, that’s it. But being there with two other people, this is what happened:
Person A — Oh look, there’s Winnie on the tree
Person B — That’s okay, he always does that to get his honey.
Me — *LOL*
Soon after, we saw a Papa Smurf balloon (“he’s probably trying to escape from Gargamel”), a flying unicorn (“we found it! we found it!”), a princess (“maybe she’s looking for her unicorn!” “Oh, Papa Smurf, did you see my unicorn??”) and a train (“look, the train is coming to pick the princess up and bring her to the land of far far away”).
Yes, we had a hilariously good time just making up stories of the balloons, which would not have happened if I was alone. Lots of laughter was involved. You do know that laughter is the best medicine?
The other thing about bonding with people over a good hang-out session is that it’s a closer bond than any other relationships and is therefore also a good tool for networking, and even an ecumenical gathering at it’s best.
Because you will probably forget that person in the same black suit as everyone else you met at some random office party by tomorrow, but if you spent even half an hour with this person making up stories about flying balloons, you’ll remember him… and if you’ve laughed out loud because Papa Smurf moved on from one tree to another with someone, you are definitely less likely to be having a dividing argument with this person about some theological term.
Meanwhile, a hang-out setting, very relaxed, no hidden agenda, just being there with others and bonding through laughter does create opportunities to talk about “serious” matters too, like sharing heartaches, problems, concerns, ideas, etc.
As for the question of what do you DO when you hang-out? Well, you talk, you share stories (see paragraph before), you take photos, you eat, you enjoy the sun/the environment… and you laugh at flying balloons — or whatever else that comes up in your conversations.
PS: Thank you, my wonderful group of hang-out people. Looking forward to hanging out with you more often!