My mother always taught me not to talk to strangers…
For the most part I don’t but with the rise of social media over the last 10 years it has become easier and easier to find yourself interacting with complete and utter strangers and sharing your life with them through one of many platforms. I guess in a way this blog does that too… putting my thoughts and life out there for the whole world to read, well, not quite the whole world but a handful of friends and strangers.
Anyways, back to the point of this post.
So as I’ve mentioned before on my blog I am a member of the James Smith Academy and I have been since April. The academy is great for workouts, challenges and also working out the right calorie deficit. One thing that was mentioned when I signed up was the JSA community on Facebook but this didn’t really have much sway in my decision to join.
Once I joined I thought I might as well take advantage of all the features so I joined the Facebook group and once I was accepted I was a little bit overwhelmed with all the members and posts. I hadn’t expected to find such a big group of people all sharing their stories and their progress but also offering support for other members. After lerking in the shadows for a few weeks and with the Bali challenge fast approaching I decided to jump in with a “Hello, I am new” post. Within minutes I had 10 comments and over 20 likes to say welcome and reassure me that I’d made the right decision.
I carried on snooping for another few weeks, liking posts and sending the occasional heart eyed emoji when someone posted some awesome progress then it happened… I stumbled across a post about a JSAM meet up and my whole world changed.
The idea behind the meetup was to celebrate the end of the Bali 3.0 challenge. A kind JSA legend has started organising and Cheltenham was the location. I am actually really shy in person so I was apprehensive about going anyway but it was pretty much on the doorstep so I booked a hotel and joined the whatsapp group. The whatsapp group was mental, over 150 people who I didn’t know all having conversations. I’d leave my phone for a few hours and suddenly I had over 500 notifications. So many times in the 10 weeks leading up to the event I thought about cancelling and staying in my comfort zone, the fact that it seemed like lots of people all knew each other already sent y anxiety into overdrive. Closer to the event I saw on the group that another girl was in search of a room so I offered for her to share with me… I’d never met this girl before but she had also never met anyone so I extended the invitation in the hope that it would give me the push I needed to actually get over myself and go. I started following some of the members on Instagram so that I could start putting faces to the names and ease my nerves somewhat… However, there turned out to be a few other meetups over the 10 weeks and watching the stories unfold on Instagram and the friendships being made both made me scared for my liver and more daunted about not knowing anyone because lots of them would have already met at previous events.
Shortly before the event the full plan was announced as well as news that the main man himself, James Smith, would also be attending. At that point I knew it was too late to back out and that I would regret it forever if I missed my chance to speak to the boss man.
The night before the big event they had arranged a ‘Smaller’ meet and greet for people who were nervous about attending. I had planned to go but I’d just found out that I’d not got the job I went for, I had a bad day at work and had a savage migraine so decided I was probably better off getting some rest.
The day of the actual meet arrived and through the whatsapp group and Instagram I had an idea about some people who were going. They’d arrange rounders during the day and then the main event was a night out. I thought I’d ease myself in by going to rounders straight from work. Driving up my anxiety about meeting people wasn’t too bad but when I pulled up to the rounders field my brain went into overdrive and I had to sit in the car for a while to calm myself down. Once I’d got the courage to leave the car and head to the field the next change started. I turned the corner to over 100 strangers hanging out, playing rounders and drinking. My heart skipped a beat, and i went to turn around and run straight back to the car when I was spotted and figured that I’d definitely look like a weirdo if I ran back to the car now that people had seen me. I then thought back to a post I’d seen on one of the members Instagram… Face the fear and do it anyway!
I walked up to a group of people on the edge of the field and said hi and explained I was nervous and soon enough they made me feel welcome. Turns out they were all feeling the same too… Then came the next challenge… the fan girl challenge. Walking towards me from the rounders game was none other than James Smith… Oh my. I felt like i was celeb spotting. A man I’d followed for a while, the man who’s academy I had joined and the man who I’d looked up to. I didn’t know what to say so I got shy and lost myself in the group of people. Everyone was interacting, everyone was friendly and it became pretty clear that James was just a person so I decided to go over and say hello. What a down to earth man… no delusions of grandeur like some insta people I follow and genuinely happy to be around his academy members. After the initial awkwardness of a field of strangers had passed I got stuck in, everyone wanted to welcome you with a hug, some people recognised me from instagram, those who didn’t becamse new followers and I finally met my roomie for the night, she was a ray of sunshine.
The evening event came around and after a few drinks I completely forgot that 4 hours ago, I didn’t know any of these people. We got to know each other, we had shotss, we danced and we took pictures. Obviously I didn’t meet or get to know every single one of them but there were definitely a handful that stuck out and made the night for me!
It was crazy to be surrounded by so many like minded people, all with their own goals, their own ups and downs, their own journeys and their own insecurities.
Because of the event I’ve made a few good friends, people who check in, who care how I am doing and likewise. These people started off as complete strangers and now we are each others cheerleaders. I guess that is just another, in the long list, of benefits from joining the James Smith Academy.
To any of the new JSA members that may be reading this blog post or anyone thinking about joining… do it. It is a family, it is supportive and it is worth it! Also… don’t be afraid to meet the people from the academy. the next event is already planned for the end of Bali 4.
- You are not alone.
- There will be others there who don’t know anyone.
- Everyone is friendly and welcoming. (Event those who already know lots of people)
- A hug is always the best way to say hello
- My inbox is always open if you want to make a friend before the meet.
- Your liver is safe!
I hope to make more like minded friends through the rest of my journey and I will post the insta links to some of my favourite JSA accounts so go ahead and give them a follow too!
Just remember guys, Sometimes strangers make the best friends… unless you’re meeting them in a dark alley at night!
P.S. I also got to meet the brain behind the #NeatUp247 movement Diren Kartal