Updated: Nov 9, 2019
My team and I went to a social hour during a conference. My teammates went off in different directions, and after a while, I found myself sitting with a bunch of colleagues who I didn’t know very well. As the social hour came to a close, I was invited to join them for dinner. It had been a long day of interacting with people, and I was exhausted. My introverted self was desperate for some quiet downtime, but I remembered my promise to say yes to the first 5 invitations I got, so I agreed to go.
This was a group of women who knew each other well professionally and personally. When I arrived, I felt out of place at first. I watched their interactions and listened to their stories. It would have been easy for me to fly under the radar, taking up space, but not saying a word. I realized I had a choice to sit there and be passive or to engage and live. I realized if I was just going to sit like a bump on a log, then I should have gone back to my room and just declined the invitation. The purpose of my challenge was to begin living life and saying yes to things I would have otherwise refused the request. So I used my voice and shared my own stories. I began to relax and settle into the banter and the enjoyment of the evening. My guard came down, and I showed myself. The evening turned out to be enjoyable. We talked, laughed, and shared stories. I realized how much we had in common and it was fun to get to know some new people. As the night drew to an end, I headed back to my hotel for some much-needed sleep.
As I reflect on this night, I realize that it would have been so easy and comfortable for me to return to my room, settle into a movie, and stay in my content introverted world or to remain quiet in the presence of others. The type of behavior is so typical for me that sometimes people don’t even remember I was present. These types of choices have kept me safe and comfortable but alone. I may enjoy my alone time to recharge and re-energize, but at the end of the day, I am looking for friendships and a partner to share my life with. At some point in my life, remaining in a safe and protected world is more painful than venturing out and taking some risks to meet people.
Message to my daughters: Venture out and do things that are challenging. Push your comfort zone when approaching life choices. Personal growth is essential to living a full and happy life. You never know what opportunities will present themselves when you say yes!