I was out with a friend the other day who explained that he’d declined an invitation to a party because he was uncomfortable meeting people he didn’t know and particularly, trying to join a conversation in a social setting when he didn’t know anyone. We’ve all been in that awkward place where everyone seems to know each other and we’re the stray dog feeling like nobody cares about us. No situation seems worse than when we’re suddenly single, particularly after divorce.
I remember when I got engaged, I thought I would always have a date for Saturday night. It felt great! I never had to dread the weekend and fear that I would be an old spinster. We would go out with his friends and my friends, mostly, we would just go out together. When the kids came along, although the temptation was to stay home-exhausted from the previous week, I insisted we get a babysitter so we could have some time together.
Once my husband and I separated, I felt it was a lot easier to stay home than brave the terrifying world of socializing as a ‘Divorcee’. I couldn’t bear to insert myself into someone else’s conversation and admit to being there ‘by myself’. At some point, I realized that I would become that spinster I so feared in my younger years and realized that I had to begin socializing. Here are a few things I learned:
- Say yes to the next invitation-social or business-that you get.
- Put on an outfit you feel great in, add some makeup.
- Look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself words of encouragement:
- I am beautiful
- I am interesting
- I am bold
- Think of a few topics you feel comfortable talking about and have them in your back pocket if there’s an awkward moment of silence.
- If you arrive and ‘everyone’ seems to be in a conversation, get yourself something to drink. Try to make small talk in the line for drinks. Talk to the bartender for a minute or two.
- Look for someone familiar. If you find someone you know, mosey on over and stand where they catch your eye. If you don’t know anyone, look for a group that has an opening in the way they’re standing. Stand close to them and smile. Listen to what they’re saying and try to add something of value. Or simply introduce yourself with “Hi, I’m ______, do you mind if I join in?”
- If the first group feels uncomfortable, excuse yourself and move on to the next.
- Go back to step #6.
You’d be surprised how friendly people can be. We’ve all been in that situation and most people are sympathetic to a lone stranger. If you put out welcoming, positive energy, people will want to get to know you. Before you know it, there won’t be enough time in the week for all your social engagements!