Remember the awkward days of middle school lunchtime? You don’t really know anyone, so you make a few laps with your tray looking for an open seat at a table where the people look friendly enough to welcome you in. Instead, you fail to muster up the necessary courage and you find a seat at a table by yourself, hoping that someone else who’s feeling a little lost and left out too will come join you. Or was that just me?
I’m kind of weird. For many reasons… but mainly because I’m painfully shy when meeting new people, unless I’m with someone I already know. Once I get to know you, you’ll have a hard time shutting me up but you’d never guess that from a first encounter. In fact, I’ve had many of my best friends tell me they hated me at first because they mistook my quiet demeanor and standoffish nature for bitchiness. Oops.
But the good thing about middle school, and high school and especially college – it’s so easy to make friends. From the classroom, to student organizations to dorm rooms… you’re surrounded and connected to others at all times.
I wish I had gotten the memo that making friends after college isn’t quite as easy as I’d hoped it would be. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to move to DC was to take myself out of my comfort zone. I had lived in Philly for the last four years and knew the city and the people like the back of my hand. As much as I loved Philly and the friends I had made, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in the same place, knowing the same people. All of those sayings that people Instagram and pin on Pinterest? You know the ones – “Carpe Diem,” and “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Well, I actually wanted to live them.
So now I’m here, in this new city that I’m slowly starting to call home. I’m still learning all the neighborhoods and districts. I can’t quite get a grasp on the city grid yet either and get lost quite often. I’m not sure where the best hangout spots are or where I can find the best slice of pizza. Nor do I really know how to go about the middle -schoolesque awkwardness of finding new friends. Well… I do, but I guess you can just say I’ve been too afraid to try.
I’m well aware of different professional and social groups in the area that meet up on a regular basis. In fact, I’ve penciled in quite a few of these gatherings on my calendar only to come up with some excuse as to why I couldn’t go. “Oh, it’s too far,” or “I probably shouldn’t spend any money,” or “the traffic is too bad.” Ok – that last one is actually a pretty viable excuse for anyone who knows what traffic is like in the DMV area.
So I guess I really have no right at all to complain, or whimper or whine. I’m not in middle school anymore. Nobody is going to bring their tray to the table to sit with me and be my friend, as much as I’d like them to. Yes it’s going to be uncomfortable. Definitely even a little scary at first too. But that’s why I moved down here in the first place, and I can’t lose sight of that.
I guess it’s finally time I begin to “Carpe the diem” and get out of my comfort zone.
Isn’t that the only way we can grow?