Social by Nature

Last night I went to a work related social event. A company we work with was having a dinner to thank the companies who supported them while they were opening their first test kitchen.

I was excited and nervous. In the past six years, since graduating high school, I have really “come into my own”, as they say. Whether through life events or self revelations, I have become more totally, completely and confidently ME than I’ve ever been.

Still, I can’t help but feel the lingering feelings of insecurity and social awkwardness I grew up with. It didn’t help that I decided that for this event, I would wear a dress. Dresses for me hold a fifty percent chance that I forget I weigh anything at all and a fifty percent chance I feel like a hippopotamus in a tutu. This particular morning, I was somewhere in between. I was fairly comfortable but all too aware of myself all day. It was all I could do to focus on my daily work tasks with this dinner lurking at the back of my mind.

The present day version of myself stood firmly and most prominently, expressing my excitement for this new opportunity. However, the shy, more insecure version of myself – that, while not as frequent a visitor as it has been in the past, still has a rather loud opinion – was having quite the hissy fit, reminding me of how awkward I was when I met new people. A slightly more rational version of myself kept repeating that I wasn’t as awkward as I used to be, and at least I’d be with my two teammates, the two most social people I know, so I would be okay.

Needless to say, I felt fairly schizophrenic all day.

At first, admittedly, I did feel a little awkward. My two coworkers had personal contact with some of the hosts of this party, while I barely knew what this company was about. So I stuck close by my friend and tried to play it cool, feeling a little calmer with a glass of Prosecco in my hand – something to do when the conversation fell silent. I looked to her to keep the conversation flowing, because I always joked that she could make conversation with a wall if she wanted to.

By the time we sat down to dinner, our trio had been down to two for quite some time. As we approached our seats, the coworker I was with suggested maybe we separate for dinner so that we could mingle. I don’t know if it was the apparent terror on my face at the suggestion, or the fact that the sitting happened too fast for us to really change our minds, but I was very grateful that I ended up sitting between my friend and a girl we had been talking to.

Before the first course was over (yes, there were multiple courses to this meal), I was deep in conversation with a group if people to the left if me, while the coworker I had been so desperately clinging to was doing the same to my right.

While it was inexplicably comforting to have her beside me, I discovered that I didn’t need my social butterfly friend to keep me afloat. As it turns out, I can tread water just fine all on my own.

In fact, I had forgotten how much fun it was to meet new people. To tell them your story and to hear where they’ve been and where they want to go. I met two people who happened to be from Boston also. The girl to my left was actually from Camridge! We bonded over how annoying it can be to get back to Boston and how nice it is to go home. She said she really misses her dogs, which caused the woman across the table to lean in and show us pictures of her shih tzu and talking to us about a dog rescue organization she supports.  The conversation naturally kept flowing, and worst case scenario we had a steady stream of absurdly delicious courses being placed in front of us one by one.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, attending a dinner. But I consider it an accomplishment. A small accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless. There was a time where I wouldn’t have said a word and would have forced myself on my friend and her conversation the entire night. Or sat awkwardly in silence, not really a member of anyone’s conversation. Instead, I asked questions and gave answers and told stories and learned stories. And I loved every minute of it.

As it turns out, I’m social by nature. I just love people and everything about them. I love the ridiculous people, the calm people, the characters.  I loving watching people interact with one another, see how they interact with me. Maybe it’s the psychology major in me, but I just love people.

So, I guess being adopted onto the Brand Communications/Marketing team was a better move than I thought.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 07/21/2011.

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