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Last summer, while I was in the throes of breakup misery, I decided that what I needed was to meet new people, and I also needed a hobby. Over the course of several days on holiday, we ran through all sorts of things I could do, but none of them felt quite right.

I wanted to be outside, and with like-minded people, people who wouldn’t, for example, vote UKIP or be homophobic. They’d have to be people I could be myself around, and feel safe and comfortable. I was concerned that a lot of hobbies – rock climbing, or  falconry – would cost too much, or they’d be difficult to start – baton-twirling was one notable suggestion – or too solitary – stamp-collecting, or lace-making – or be at inconvenient times, or with too much commitment required of me, or that the people I would meet wouldn’t be the people I would want to meet, for the aforementioned reasons. It took most of a quite-long walk for me to come to the decision that what I needed to do was start a walking group of my own.

Then it took another eight months for me to actually make it happen.

I put a call out on twitter a few weeks ago, asking if anyone would be interested in starting an informal walking group. I had a lot of replies, far more than I expected. This Sunday, we will be heading to some hills south of London, and walking about five miles. Not a big one, but a good start. It’s supposed to be warm, and we’re all going to bring a packed lunch and have a sunny picnic. I haven’t met everyone who’s hopefully coming, which is ideal, because meeting new people was a lot of the point. I’m hoping that it’ll be more than a one-off, that we’ll meet semi-regularly and bring along different people and explore new places.

Since those first conversations last August, I’ve healed and moved on. I’ve grown a lot, and learnt about myself. I’ve also met a lot of new people, and nurtured friendships with people I didn’t know at all back then. My social circle looks very different from how it did a year ago. But I’m still looking to expand it, to surround myself with people who are like me, but not too much. I’m becoming more comfortable with being brave and making the first move, and it’s mostly been very successful. This is an important step in my journey.

I hope it will be a roaring success.

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