Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Enter a Room with Flair

I walk into a room and wonder who's going to talk to me.  Inevitably, I spiral into a self-conscious moment. 

I'm waiting for my daughters to finish a gymnastics class, and I look around the waiting room.   The lively chatter of mothers all around me makes me feel terribly alone.  I don't belong in this group; I'm an outsider to this world of sequin leotards, glitter hairspray, and the flurry of little girls trying to finish their homework before the coach calls them in.

Nobody is paying attention to me!  

Sulking in pity, I overhear a little girl ask her mother the difference between a homophone and a homonym. 

My specialty!  I can't resist such questions.  I have to assist.  For the next 5 minutes, I find myself helping a 4th grader think of words that sound the same but are spelled differently (homophone) and words that sound the same and are spelled the same but mean different things (homonym). 

You can't help somebody else and also think about how neglected you feel.  It's a strange phenomenon.  It doesn't matter that I'm supremely out of place here.  I'm serving somebody, and then, everything feels right.  And in a powerful turn of events, the mother who once seemed so cliquish and perfect starts telling me about her life.  Over homophones, I'm learning about a lifetime of heartbreak.

Each of those mothers might have their own story of loss.  The room isn't what it seems; it's nothing like it sounds.  Beneath the clique and chatter, there's somebody who needs attention.

Perhaps when I feel most alone, most forgotten, I need to look up, find a way to help and bless (even if it's through homophones), and stop focusing on myself.  I want to enter a room, take my eyes off of myself, and find the one who needs help.  Surely, that's one way to live with flair.

4 comments:

Elisabeth Black said...

Wowza. I'm that mom who isn't part of the clique, like you.

I never thought of reaching out before.

Karen said...

I'm that mom, too. I've found, too, that asking people about themselves, not waiting for them to talk to me, helps me get over that feeling. And inevitably I feel blessed. Helps me enter the conversation more quickly next time, too.

seekingzeal said...

Entering a room alone continues to plague my nerves, but an experience I had a few years back has helped me to cope with the awkwardness.

I was visiting my parents and ended up going out to dinner with them and a few of their friends (most of whom I knew fairly well). My dad insisted that I sit next to a particular woman I didn’t know. Later I asked him why he wanted me to sit there, and he told me that he had seen me before seek out the person who appeared least comfortable in a room and strike up a conversation. At this dinner, he was concerned because the woman he had seated me next to didn’t know anyone else there, and he thought I would be best at drawing her out and making her feel comfortable in the group. I was surprised because I knew that the reason he had seen me pick out the “uncomfortable” people in a room to talk to wasn’t because I was a social butterfly with a generous spirit. Rather, it was because I was (and am) so introverted myself that I didn’t have the nerve or motivation to join a group that was deep in conversation for fear of being ignored or unable to contribute to the conversation. Instead, I would (and still do) tend to pick out the people who were standing alone, those who looked just as uncomfortable as I felt because they were less intimidating to me. It was an eye-opening moment to learn that my coping mechanism could actually be a blessing to others!

LivewithFlair said...

Thanks for that story!