“Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room? Well I’m here with you.” These lyrics from a Jack’s Mannequin song rang so true in my life for a long time. Have you ever felt this way? Ever been to a Moms Group and were convinced you were invisible? You walked in a room, hoping to make a connection, but everyone else seemed to already know each other? What about at the gym? You tried out a new body pump class and felt like you were back in high school where the “popular girls” clique was unattainable?
Maybe for you it’s been smaller things. Standing in the Starbucks line waiting for your Grande Iced White Chocolate Mocha, wanting to tell the lady behind you how much you adore her shirt, but that feels just too uncomfortable. Or maybe you are the new girl at work and have no idea what to do or where to go for lunch break?
We’ve all been there, friend. We’ve all felt the sting of being the misfit toy… feeling like you’re the one who doesn’t belong. In fact, my entire last blog was about my story with that. To be honest, I was nervous to put that out in the world. But you know what I’ve found? I’m sure not alone. So many of you reached out, having really connected to the feeling of being the odd-man out. And just like that comparison bias I talked about, since putting my story out into the world, I’ve noticed/heard more and more stories of friends feeling the same way.
So what do we do about it? Well, I want to share with you an idea I read that totally shifted my mindset and the way I approach social situations and trying to make connections.
It was the idea of being a “There you are” kind of person rather than the “Here I am” kind. “Here I am” people slink back and sit quietly in hopes maybe somebody talks to them. “There you are” people walk in and make a point to connect with others. For a VERY long time I was the “Here I am” person. I would instantly find someone I knew to sit comfortably with or just try to blend in. But I wanted to be a “There you are” person! I wanted to connect with others and be a light and make an impact. But man, it felt hard and uncomfortable.
Yet so many people are “Here I am” people, like I was. They are waiting and hoping for connection. They NEED a “There you are” person to walk up to them, greet them, and connect with them. It’s what I wanted. I believe it’s why making mom-friends is so hard. It’s why we hide behind social media. We are staying within our comfort zones, not making eye contact, because the connection is often scary.
If it’s what I desperately wanted, I believe others also long for that connection. What about you? Have you ever hoped someone would just make the first move? Notice you? Connect with you?
But then I realized, all change starts with me. So, I became a “There you are” type of human. Even when it was uncomfortable, even when it was scary, even when it didn’t lead to a friendship, I greeted people. I pursued people. I stalked people. (Just kidding- I didn’t take it thaaaaat far.)
For me, that looked like jumping into a small group at our new church. It meant going to Moms Groups until I found a good fit. It was inviting acquaintances over for dinner, yes, even to our tiny apartment. It was having coffee dates even when it meant having to take my crazy children out into public and have conversations interrupted over and over.
It wasn’t always confortable. It didn’t always produce an instant best friend. But the more I did it, the more confortable it became. And the times it did provide instant connect? Well, that was worth every uncomfortable moment leading there.
So I want you to ask yourself, do you often find yourself feeling like a misfit? Because chances are, the people around you feel it too. What if you were the one to initiate? What if you pursued the connection? What might happen?
It might just be beautiful…