As an awkward and uncomfortable teenager who had no idea how to mingle, parties felt like torture.
Even as an adult, I remember walking into a party in New York City and feeling so timid and shy at the sight of a roomful of strange faces that I started to panic—when I noticed a few people I knew. I headed directly for them and spent the rest of the evening by their side, speaking to no one else. Occasionally, I’d look around, amazed that this room full of people seemed to be having fun whereas I felt so uncomfortable and afraid that should I dare to try to mingle, I was certain I’d find myself all alone and I wouldn’t know what to do.
When I finally decided to leave, I snuck out, only saying good-bye to the friends I’d spent all night talking to. I was so thankful the evening was over and I’d somehow survived.
I had a lot to learn.
A few months later I was in Paris and was invited to attend a party. After my last experience, my anxiety level was at its highest. I knew there would be lots of people there, I’d only met a few of them, and hiding would be impossible. In France saying bonjour to everyone was not optional.
As I entered the room full of people, I actually thought about backing out, but someone I knew recognized me. Taking a deep breath, knowing I had no choice but to put a smile on my face, I entered and began to greet people.
If I knew the person in front of me, I gave then the customary kiss on both cheeks with a big “Bonsoir!” To the people I didn’t know, I introduced myself: “Bonsoir, je suis Adeline,” they reciprocated, and we shook hands.
Once I’d met and said hello to everyone at the party, much to my amazement, I settled in and started talking to people I’d just met. How comfortable I felt! How much fun I was having!
Even with all the fear I was feeling, having gone through the ritual of introductions, I suddenly understood how just saying bonjour/hello allowed me to feel connected to everyone in the room. In fact, now when I enter a party, I no longer see a room of strangers and want to run; instead I smile and go meet them.
Best France Forever
What about you?
Are you anxious when you enter a room of people you do not know? How do you get over your fear?
Let us know, I’d love to hear.
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