“Is this seat free? Do you mind if I sit here?” I said. The woman assured me that it was free so I sat down. First step of putting yourself out there was done. Now I just needed to make it through the next two hours being a room full of women that I didn’t know.
To some people a room full of strangers is a playground. They flit around the room, enjoying the company and talking to everyone they can find. They’re like butterflies on speed, soaking up the chance to talk to new people.
Then there’s the other subset of people in the world – the introverts. They’re my people. The thought of talking to people that we don’t know is terrifying. It causes sweats for introverts to just sit there in a room of strangers and slowly buy surely we retreat inside ourselves.
But I had followed the successful introverts guidebook and put myself out there. Walking into a room full of strange women, I had approached someone and asked if I could sit next to them. It was a victory for the shyest of the shy that had just walked into a new setting full of people I had never met.
Then that woman got up and moved next to friends and I was just sitting there, alone. Step one was seemed like a failure. Minutes later a new woman approached me and asked if the chair vacated by the other woman was free. “Yes! I said feeling overly hopeful.
The woman picked up the chair and moved it across the room to sit with her friends.
I get it. As a woman I understand that time with friends is precious. Make that time with friends when no kids are present? Woah! It’s like we’ve won the lottery. The opportunity to talk about adult things without some child handing you a wet pair of underwear that you are 99% sure does not belong to them is a jack-pot!
Yet how often do we as women stop to think about who we’re leaving out when we stay within our circles?
I’ve been 100% guilty of this – especially at conferences when there’s a room of eyes looking at you that you don’t know. It’s easier to stick with friends and not put ourself out there. For an introvert those friends are your comfort zone. For an extrovert, those friends depend on you to make them feel at ease.
But do we ever stop and think about that new person in the room? They don’t know anyone and we don’t know them so we’ll just stick to the ones we do know.
What about the woman who is sitting there just playing on her phone? Is it because she’s trying to level up on Candy Crush or because it’s a shield to hide behind?
Maybe there’s a chance that by sticking with our friends that we’re hurting someone else who could really use a new friend.
Maybe we should step outside our circle of friends every now and then.
Women have great power to care for children. We need to care with simple actions for others as well. We want to care in huge ways because we want to know without a doubt that we’re making a difference and not wasting our time.
But I promise you that spending time with someone that’s new to the area or to a group will make a world of difference, especially if they’re a struggling introvert.
So next time you’re with your group of friends – look around. Who else can you impact by simply sitting next to them?
I think we’ll all be amazed with what will happen when we, as women, step outside of our close knit circle of friends and explore what else is out there. It’s as simple as saying “is this seat free?” and sitting down in it.