A friend of mine just started a new job. I wished her a “great first day at school”. Her reply, yes it felt that way. Often when we enter a new situation where we are not only unfamiliar with what to expect, we also don’t know the people, it can take many of us back to the early days of school. Will anyone speak to me? Will I fit in? Will I make friends? And so on…
When I was young I was extremely shy. My friends today find it difficult to believe because I start conversations so easily with people who I don’t know. Honestly it developed over time and I continue to push up against the resistance to put myself out there.
Now don’t misunderstand, I love to meet new people I think it is a great opportunity to learn about many new things and discover really interesting people. But along with that there can be a feeling of vulnerability that we face when we don’t know the people around us.
That emotion can be heightened when it seems like everyone else knows each other and we are the new one to the group. An example was I was recently at a party. Aside from the host I really didn’t know anyone. Everyone seemed to be huddled in conversation. It was a personal challenge to begin a conversation but I did it and over the span of the party I met a number of people and had great conversations. I had a really good time.
Putting yourself out there can be scary and challenging but in the end very rewarding. So I offer you two thoughts. One, when new to a group make the effort to meet new people. Yes, there may be some people who are not receptive, and other conversations may not be that engaging, but more often than not some will be. Second, if you are one of the people who is part of the group and you notice someone new, make an effort to include them. I am sure the effort will be appreciated.
Either way, you never know where a new friend will come from, similar to how you made friends in school.
Share with me what you do when you don’t know anyone. Are you comfortable walking up to strangers and starting a conversation? Does it push you out of your comfort zone or does it come naturally?