Monday, October 24, 2011

Apparently, I'm a Cruise Director

Recently I attended a 3-day conference.  There were going to be tons of people there; tons of single people around my age that I didn't know.  The mere thought of it gave me anxiety.  Meeting new people...  [Gulp] SCAAAARY.

I remember when I first went to an event for singles.  It was this past January.  It was a religion class (for mid-singles, ages 31-45) held at a church, with a mixer afterwards.  I thought that a religion class sounded "safe" - like a "nice" place to meet "nice" and "safe" singles with similar beliefs, expectations, and goals.  I drove to the church.  I got to the parking lot.  I sat there, looking around at others emerging from their vehicles, entering the building together.  I kept thinking they already have friends; who is going to talk to me?  So -- I panicked and drove home.

A few days later I got a Facebook e-vite about a mid-singles choir that would be rehearsing following the religion class.  They would be singing for an upcoming Sunday Fireside.  I thought to myself, "Ok... I sing.  I guess I could do that."  Once again, I drove to the church for the religion class.  I made myself get out of the car and I walked into the building.  Many people seemed to already be in little groups. I panicked, kept my head down and I walked through the crowd, through the building, out the other side and back around to my car.  I sat there until it was time for the choir rehearsal to start.  For the next 8 weeks, I only went to the rehearsal.  Slowly, I began to make friends. Then I finally got brave to start attending the class, even though I usually sat by myself near the back.  I quickly learned that I loved the class, even if I didn't socialize much afterwards.  The mid-week inspiration was something I needed to help me get through my week.  All of a sudden I loved going, and I even started attending the mixers [briefly] afterwards.

Then one night, someone approached me about attending a dinner group for that weekend.  I decided to go for it. So, I met 15 other people around my age and we ate, we talked, we played games and I truly had fun.  I told some of them they should start coming to the religion class.  The next week, many of them showed up.

A new girl came and ended up sitting right in front of me during the class.  I could tell by her nervous glances around the room this was her first time.  I had a pretty good idea what she was thinking.  So, after the class I leaned forward and introduced myself to her.  She stayed by my side during the mixer as I introduced her to all of my other new friends.  She remarked how I seemed to know "Everyone"; I thought that was ironic.

A few weeks later I signed up for a day trip activity with the singles group.  I volunteered to be one of the drivers.  I figured, if I drove I could always be busy "concentrating" on the road and therefore not feel left out if no one talked to me.  When the cars met up at the diner to eat, I introduced my car-load to a few others I happened to know.  Then the following Wednesday, I introduced those new friends to my other new friends.  And that is typically how it's been since --I introduce myself to new people, especially if they are standing alone, and because I don't want them to feel like I did, I introduce them to everyone else I know.

Anyway - fast forward to this conference a few weeks ago.  I met lots more new people during this seminar or that workshop or this dinner, and I made several more introductions.  I skipped the final Saturday workshop to find some Excedrin at the nearby Target.  When I got back the workshop wasn't quite over.  I noticed a few people hanging out in the gym, so I went in there.  I talked to a few of the guys and they were preparing for a gaming session that was next on the agenda.  They were short one person and asked if I would help.  I jumped on that.  If I had a task, I could be busy with that and not feel left out.  As the different groups came in and out of my game, I met lots more people and later that night at the dinner, karaoke and dance, I introduced many of them to many others.

The Sunday evening, following the Fireside, there were refreshments.  2 girls I had met the previous day stopped me to ask me a question about the conference. When I gave them the answer the one said to the other, "We knew someone in charge would know!"  As they walked away, I had to laugh to myself.  I was not in charge of ANYTHING during the conference.  Why would they think that?

I walked over to some of my friends and mentioned how those girls mistook me for someone in charge.  One of my friends laughed and said, "Yeah -- we've been watching you.  You just gracefully move from one group of people to the other, making sure everyone knows each other; plus you helped with that game."  I shrugged, supposing that made sense.

When I told my sister about that last week she said, "So, you were like the cruise director; making sure everyone was having fun and no one was left out."

Later that night I attended a party where I didn't really know anyone.  I knew OF 2 of the girls there, but didn't really KNOW them.  So, I took a deep breath, shoved my anxiety down into the depths of my chest and walked up to someone standing alone and struck up a conversation.  As soon as I began to talk to her, I heard my sister's words in my head...  "cruise director".  

I don't know why I think "I" need to be the self-appointed cruise director.  I mean, really - who do I think I am?

Luckily a few more friends showed up and I could relax and just hang out like "normal" people the rest of the evening.


Puphigirl said...

So, will you be sporting the cruise director hair-do of Julie from the Love Boat?

Deborah said...

I wish I could be a cruise director sometimes--I can't seem to force myself to talk to people, even when I can tell they're new, alone, and nervous. I'm too nervous myself! At least by acting as "cruise director," you meet people and make new friends for yourself too!

(So tell me again, WHY did I choose a life that has me moving to new places and having to make new friends every 2-3 years?!)

Cassie said...

You always seem so confident to me! I could NEVER do that! Yes, you do know people. I don't know if you actually CARED about people, but... Haha, just kidding! You have a big heart, even if you don't see it. :) Yay emma!

Ruthykins said...

I think you just see a need and try to fill that need because you know that you are well equipped to do so.