Friends With Strangers

When I got my Peloton years ago, I never dreamed I would actually meet new people on it. It’s the introvert’s workout, right? No pressure from sexier gym-goers, right? Wrong.

Over three years ago, my husband bought me a Peloton bike after I had gone to a spin class with my good friend Stephanie. Being that I have so many kids, it just wasn’t feasible for me to go to spin classes an hour away from home, and at that time, spin studios were becoming really popular. I loved the bike and I hated it. Used it and then didn’t. But last year, a really hard year in many ways, I really got into the habit of using it more and discovering all my Peloton had to offer. (This isn’t an ad, by the way. Stick with me.)

I guess I didn’t realize it at the time, but this piece of exercise equipment has connected me in so many ways. It’s strange, because I would hear mention of people becoming friends through it and I always wondered how. Then, I realized what it was: social media. In fact, there’s a whole community of people who love their Peloton bikes more than what is considered normal. A tribe. A gang. Whatever you call it, it’s real.

I’ve only been back on social media for a year after taking a ten-year sabbatical, so I began to connect the dots a little late in the game. However, towards the end of 2019, I became “the bomb.”

I had this community of pedaling Peloton people high-fiving me on the leaderboard during rides and then also encouraging me on social media. It went from digital gym pal to internet friend.

This relational aspect of my Peloton is something I’m still wrestling with today, having watched way too many crime shows from a very young age. But I’ve met some truly amazing people in the Peloton community, and every now and then, I make new friends that really just get me and where I’m at in my life.

By the end of 2019, those connections became more real than I expected, when something happened. When I would post something on Instagram, they would like my posts and really interact with them. Was I actually appealing to these strangers on the interwebs? Could it be that we were actually–dare I say it?–real friends?

It snuck up on me (which is semi-scary), but in one particular post, I wrote about throwing things away and then waiting for God to bless me enough to buy things I really wanted, like items from this online fitness apparel boutique I follow. When the owner of that boutique liked my post, I found myself feeling surprisingly giddy. You can imagine my shock when, two weeks later, I received a package in the mail from Michelle, the boutique owner! I saw the pink and gold wrapping and immediately recognized it from her posts. I began to cry. Her card inside was touching. Honestly, she almost ran out of space detailing how much the post on Instagram meant to her. She also included an entire workout outfit from her boutique, Embrace EveryBody, along with a shirt that says “Babes Support Babes.”

I realize now that she got my address from a fellow Peloton pal who had sent me some samples of skin care stuff when I responded to one of her stories desperately wanting some face wash! So, if you’re keeping track, in less than three months, these two people who I didn’t know from Adam had blessed me miraculously and without provocation with gifts. Just out of the kindness of their hearts. Maybe the world wasn’t so terrible after all. It helped me see a silver lining at a time when I was so confused and my chest often felt tighter than luxury leggings.

​Right before Christmas, I received another package. This time it was from Crystal, another Pelo-sister. She broke the mold on setting my soul ablaze. She sparked in me a fire that is still blazing right now, because she sent me the most amazing gift, a true Christmas miracle! It was a book called Grit & Grace, a card (still on display in my house even though it’s not Christmas anymore), and gift cards to Aldi in the amount I spend in one week on groceries. Jaw-dropping stuff, guys.

Let me be clear: while it was a substantial amount of money and I’m very grateful for that extravagant of a gift, Crystal sending it meant something more to me. It meant she was following me on social media , getting to know me, interacting with me, and investing in me. All through technology. I post each Friday on Instagram about my adventures at Aldi, trying to stay below a certain dollar amount each week, and she knew that! Never have we met in person. I haven’t met ANY of these three amazing women in person. And yet they have all blessed my life.

From Cali to Colorado, these people showed up for me. Not because I asked or because they had to; they just wanted to.

Something I said sparked a relationship between us in their minds, and even inspired them to do a kind thing for me. I found gifts way beyond what I expected or deserved that made me feel seen at a time that I was battling depression and a lot of changes. Each one gave me things that were just for me. Natalie. Not something for my kids or family. For me. Sometimes, as a stay at home mom, I feel like a tissue. Supportive when needed but disposable. These three women came along and made me feel like a star! They believed in me without ever having met me, and it made me feel so strong, so beautiful, and most of all…loved.

From total strangers on a piece of exercise equipment to people I count as friends now.

I know a lot of people roll their eyes about the bike that goes nowhere. But this bike has taken me to more places than I could ever have imagined. I feel blessed to know these strangers and to call them my friends.

Reality Changing Observations:

1. Have you ever made friends on the internet? How did that come about?

2. What Facebook groups are you a part of and why?

3. Who are your favorite people to follow on social media and why?

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