by Clair Ching
Throughout my life I’ve always been quite introverted and shy. I’ve had friends, but social gatherings made me panic. Whenever there are meetups I often felt nervous and wanted to retreat into my shell. So who would have thought I would one day find myself teaching strangers how to hoop and even performing? I wouldn’t have. What’s the secret behind this transformation? Hooping, of course, and even more important than the physical aspect of it, the hoop has really helped me deal with my awkwardness with people. A simple plastic circle has proven to be a portal of personal change, changes I’ve been observing since the time that I started hooping. Here are the five favorite ways that the hoop has made an impact on overcoming my shyness.
1. Hooping gives me comfort. When I hoop I get to release some of the negative feelings that have haunted me, including nervousness. When I have my hoop and have time before I go out to meet others, whether the gathering is large or small, I like hooping first. Just giving the hoop a spin really helps me to move and shake it all out. It is probably similar to those people who shake their hands or bodies to get rid of negative energy, only it’s a lot more fun.
2. Hooping has given me a sense of community and acceptance. Thanks to the hoop, I’ve met a lot of hoopers and flow artists at spin jams and festivals. Thanks to having a common interest, I find it easier to spend time with others. Through those opportunities, online and offline, I’ve found a community of diverse people where I feel at home. Locally, I’m part of HoopNation Philippines and Flow Arts Philippines and it feels like I can be myself with these people and I enjoy it, even though big gatherings used to make me panic. Well, they still do, but at least I am now learning little by little how to interact with others. Still awkward at times, but I’m getting there!
3. Hooping makes me learn more about myself and my inner world. To me, this aspect of hooping is very important. To relate with other people, I need to have a better understanding of myself. Because I am getting to know myself better, I respond to people differently and there are certain things that make me feel happy about my socialization, and there are other things that don’t. When I am in my hoop I can keep my head from jumping to conclusions about what others are thinking and I can find healing in it while I move. Maybe it’s the endorphins and serotonin that I get from hooping, but sometimes when I am hooping in a bad mood I learn that my frustrations are not really weird. At the same time I realize the importance of responding to life challenges like how the hoop responds to the paddle or a break. I can jump high and have a new perspective on my hoop practice, and have one on my life as well. The same thing is true with relating to others: I can jump high and see people beyond the facades of others and enjoy their company more.
4. Hooping gives me something to talk about. I am bad with small talk, but hooping is a great conversation starter. I can now talk to others with ease about a topic that interests me and I know about. Through talking about hooping I can also relate it to other things like yoga, music, dance and more. It might sound weird to others, but I currently have hoopers as some of my closest friends and it’s something that I really appreciate because I’ve started to discover more things in life that I enjoy having opened up my world to hooping. I learn so much about flow and other things that my friends and I enjoy together and I like having something to talk about. But really even just by myself, the hoop is a conversation piece! It’s something that I can use to relate with both parents and children. Being some kind of a hoop geek, it also makes it easy for me to keep blabbing about it to anyone who asks. It’s a great starting point and I find the hoop helps other people open up too.
5. Sharing the hoop love. There are many ways to promote hoop love. Some teach. Some perform. Some people do both. Before I started hooping, I never really thought about it, but I enjoy performing for an audience because there’s a high that comes from finishing a routine. It’s a high when people are curious about hooping and they come to see me hoop. And even more fun is when they want to learn too. In the park, I’ve been approached by others and it has been really great seeing the joy on their faces when they get the hoop going on their bodies.
It’s really amazing when I think about this because I normally shy away from others. But when I am asked about hooping, I can’t stop talking. I think that through hooping I’ve become more introspective and more social at the same time. I am still shy and introverted, but now I am more aware of the situations that I am in. Also, the fact that I’ve been able to adjust to other people through hooping gives me hope that I can apply the same principles in other aspects of my life. I never thought I’d be doing something like this, but I am very glad I did.
Columnist Clair Ching is from Manila and she is an active member of Hoopnation Philippines. She found hooping in 2012 as a great way to keep herself active and physically fit. She blogs about hooping, crafting and food on Being a Crafty Cat. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for quick updates on her hooping life.