Tara Davis provided this photo of her and her friends at Lightning in a Bottle /\
When people decide to start hooping, things start to change. Their lives become more exciting, more positive, and more energetic. They prefer to bring hoops wherever they go and are quick to talk about this new adventure. Bear with them, because they have really good, pure intentions. It is hard to contain the excitement of this passion they have for the plastic circles! The level of connection and feeling they have for hoops is hard to describe.
When I started hooping, I started to feel differently about anyone who didn't support my decision to pursue my passion. I noticed the way my non-hooper friends/family looked at me. I noticed when they rolled their eyes or looked confused about why I would do such a thing. I heard some negative comments when they saw I had my hoops with me. I felt like they didn't want me around as long as I wanted to hoop. I stopped spending time with people who made me feel bad about hooping because I couldn't handle how much it hurt my feelings. I don't want that to happen to others.
SEE ALSO: Inside the Mind of a "Non-Hooper"
If you're friends with a hooper and don't want to be a hooper, there are some ways you can still be a supportive friend.
1. Accept them for who they are
This new accomplishment of pursuing a passion is nothing to look down upon. It is actually pretty amazing. It is hard to put yourself out there and do something that is important to you. Appreciate their ambition and passion. Don't get upset if they want to hoop all the time. They aren't choosing the hoop over you. They are simply giving into that urge all hoopers know too well. We aren't avoiding the conversation and we are listening. We really just want to be in motion! Hoops are more than just a "toy" or plastic. They are a part of us and an extension of who we are.
2. Don't assume or judge
It is really important that you don't assume that they don't enjoy being around you, or that they would rather be with other hoopers. They are still the same people you were friends with before they began hooping. They are just motivated by different activities than they were before. Once someone picks up some type of exercise, they have more energy than they did before. That is the benefit of physical activity. Don't be discouraged if they can't sit still and talk as long as they could before. The energy is hard to contain when it builds up. Don't judge them if you don't understand the big deal about hooping. Try to understand why they are so passionate about it. Notice their happiness.
3. Try it, if only just once.
If you want them to feel they are still accepted into your life, it is a good idea to try hooping yourself. It will show you are trying to share their interests. It will give you a new appreciation for what they do and how difficult it can be. It will make your hooper friend feel good if you ask them to teach you one or two tricks. I always get excited when a non-hooper begins showing interest in hooping. Trying it might even allow you to catch the hooping bug and enjoy it yourself! That's okay, just let it happen.
4. Explore other flow arts
If you just can't get into hooping, it is wise to try other flow arts. For example: poi spinners and hoopers get along well. Other options are flow/levitation wands (shown in the photos), devil sticks, juggling (balls, clubs, rings), contact juggling (Fushigi), staff, fans, and more. You are likely to find something that you enjoy that you can do with your hooper friend. It will make them feel better about getting up and hooping if you're not just sitting there in boredom.
5. Don't mock or make fun of them
If you think your joke is harmless, think twice first. Many hoopers can be very insecure about their hooping (especially at the beginning). Don't think it is funny to pick their hoop up and mock them. Respect their feelings, even if you aren't sure how they feel. Find a different way to make them laugh. Make a joke about something not related to hooping.
For the love of God, PLEASE do not say "did you say pooping"?. This is very irritating to hoopers. It is something a 5 year old child might ask. It is not possible that your friend told you they "pooped outside for 3 hours". Think twice before you assume that they just told you that they "pooped in front of a crowd for the first time". Always assume the word "hoop" was said. Some hoopers might actually be saying "pooping", but only if they refer to poi-style hooping (mini hoops). They are not referring to a bowel movement.
6. Try not to interrupt their "flow"
If your hooper friend is hooping and it looks like they are in a trance and are super focused in their dance, they are likely in flow. Note the photo above. They may stop paying attention to everything else around them for a moment. Don't interrupt this process. It is a very meaningful time and sought-after state of mind for a hooper. Just watch this magical, beautiful event and try to see why hooping is so fun. It is known for producing a natural high in the brain.
7. Don't tell them they have too many hoops
It may seem quite ridiculous when you find out how many hoops they own. It is important to point out that all hoops are for different purposes. I personally use each and every one of my hoops. It is helpful for us to keep many sizes and weights. Don't think we are hoarding. We are just exploring and experimenting. In addition, more hoops means we have more hoops to share with others when we "spread the hoop love". Treat all hoops carefully because they can be broken. Even a hooper's least expensive hoop can be priceless to them. To add to this, please understand that spending hundreds of dollars on a hoop is not more ridiculous than spending hundreds on a big name purse, shoes, a video game consol, a Television, tattoos, or other things. Smart hoops, Fire hoops, and LED hoops are worth their price to hoopers. Everyone spends their money differently. We respect you, so please respect us.
8. Educate yourself
Don't base any opinions on what you think is true about hooping. Find out the truth and then make your judgement call. You may have some pre-conceived ideas or beliefs about hooping. I highly recommend that you read this article after you are finished with this one: Myths and Misconceptions about Hooping. Add it to your bookmarks, or right click and click on "open in new tab".
That article contains 20 informative points and very useful information. We are not all Hippies, we don't all listen to the same music, and none of us hoop in the same way. We are all different people. Another thing you should know is that hooping is not a competition. When we see another hooper somewhere, we don't think of them as competition. We should just think of them as a new potential friend to hoop with. If you know a hooper looking to compete with other hoopers, they don't have the right attitude.
9. Listen, watch, and celebrate
- Avery Klauk proves she is a great hooper friend. She is so proud to be Kayla Smith's friend she takes a photo of them together.
Even if you don't happen to understand some of the hooping language they use, try to listen anyway. If you don't know what gaffer tape or polypro is, you probably will soon. You are probably going to learn quite a bit about this passion of theirs. It is a fascinating subject that goes deeper than you can imagine. Watch them and help them with their hooping. It means everything to a hooper to have someone to watch and give feedback. Even if you aren't sure what they are doing, let them know if it looks good from a non-hooper perspective. Celebrate with them if they finally get something they have been working on. These things are priceless and earn you big points with hooper friends.
10. Big Bonus Points! Give them space (literally)
If it is okay with you that they hoop inside your home, help them move some furniture. As long as you aren't worried about something breaking and you are comfortable, this is one of the nicest things you can do. Some hoopers don't really have enough space in their own homes to practice. When it is cold outside, raining, or poor weather conditions, hoopers need somewhere to practice. If you have more space than they do and you want to help them practice, allow them to use your home. Hoopers need as much space as they can get. High ceilings and big rooms are the most helpful for hooping practice. If you know someone with space that they can use, help them make it happen! Many hoopers actually decide to give up on hooping simply because they don't have anywhere to practice. You could be the one to keep their dream alive and allow them to become amazing at hooping!
If you took the time to read all of this, that means you are already a good friend to a hooper and on your way to becoming a great friend! Considering their feelings and passions is a great quality to have. All hoopers thank you!