Working In: Social Wellness

Health & Wellness

In the last update for this column, I mentioned that I wanted to do a better job of describing ways of “working in,” as opposed to “working out.” As such, the last entry was deeply personal, and this one will be too.

In the last update, I described a failed suicide attempt. I want to use my current regimen as an example of how long you have to persevere to get in shape. Yes, it can take months and years to lose enough weight and build enough muscle to have a visible six pack; however, it can take that long to make other gains as well. One of the facets of health I’ve allowed to atrophy over the years is Social Wellness.

All the facets of wellness are intertwined: Physical, Intellectual, Psychological, Emotional, Financial, Sexual, Social and Spiritual. One common consequence of psychological depression is social withdrawal. It may come as a surprise to people who know me as a loud, outgoing prankster, but I’m actually an introvert. I greatly prefer time to myself, and although I love people, I also need lots of time to recover my energy after spending time around others. That isn’t a dig at anyone in particular, it’s just that I give lots of myself, and I require significant time alone to recharge. Combine that with my dislike of crowded, noisy places (especially where alcohol is involved), and I already have a tendency to practically never go out. Add depression to it, and I ended up cloistering myself in my beautiful sanctuary apartment like a hermit.

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That’s very dangerous. We as people generally have a real need for other human beings. Whether we particularly like others or not, it’s extremely important to hear other people’s ideas and perspectives (especially if they disagree with us). Without these external voices, it becomes very easy to fall into an internalized echo chamber. In this alternate reality all sorts of illogical ideas gradually make perfect sense. We need the interruption of ourselves that others provide. Whether it’s their words, thoughts, actions or moods, it’s healthy to experience their difference.

I’ve been achingly slow to engage with this part of my healing process. But I have begun making faltering attempts. The chess club didn’t work out, because you just sit there with one person not talking. The networking events with professionals were exasperating, because I can pretend to be interested in buying only so many life insurance policies from only so many salespeople. I did play a couple seasons of dodgeball at Stonewall Sports, and I absolutely love the people on my team; however, we only met on game days, and the people on other teams wouldn’t even speak to me. So playing helped a bit, but not as much as I’d hoped. There are very awesome people at Stonewall, but I felt like it was too much work to break into the cliques whose T-shirts were a different color from mine.

But I did stumble recently into a socializing opportunity that genuinely made me eager to go out more. I actually want to flex these socializing muscles! It’s like a New Year’s resolution, but I do want to honor it. After first rejecting the invitation, I spontaneously decided to attend the 2017 White Party in Charlotte. It took me a couple hours to loosen up, but then the DJ messed up and played my jam!

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Over the course of the evening I got reacquainted with many delightful people I’d forgotten how much I enjoy. Oh, and what happened in the last few years since I disappeared? When did Charlotte get absolutely overrun with so many cute LGBTQ people? I mean, I suddenly feel motivated not only to go out, but also to attempt dating again. That’s a shocking about-face for me, and it shows me how important it is to remain open to new experiences. It was a beautiful event with beautiful people who were there to support some beautiful charities.

For me, this is the part of the “working in” that creates the unpleasant burn that my clients complain about when I make them do pushups. This is my fitness regime. This is my struggle with losing weight. The weight I need to lose might be different than yours, but we all have work to do to improve ourselves. If you find a modality of training that makes you really excited to exercise, then do it. Enjoy it, and lose yourself in the swimming, playing, lifting, cycling or walking. I need to find my modality for socializing. Even though I know there will be aches and pains, my Social Wellness is an integral part of my health, and it requires exercise. If you see me around, please say hello. I need the workout buddies.

info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.


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