Have you ever found yourself among lots of strangers, either all at once, in one place, or one after another, after another? I’m guessing that you probably have, at some time or other. Does it make you shudder, or give you the chills?
Not everyone would be bothered by scenarios like these, but I’m a relatively introverted person, not especially inclined towards crowds of unknown people, so when faced with situations like those – even just thinking about it – I feel myself recoiling, sinking into myself. There are different variables, mind you: if I can just be around them, on the outside looking in, not expected to interact with them, I’m fine; or, if I’m with someone else that I can buddy up with, I’m pretty ok. If I’m on my own, though, and in a situation that calls for extensive interpersonal interaction,…. my palms start sweating and I start looking for the nearest exit. (I get through it, but I don’t enjoy it!)
I had opportunities to deal with this when my family and I first moved overseas, as you might imagine. Getting to know the folks in the small church society was fine, but venturing out into the outside world, where I didn’t know a soul and didn’t know whether I had anything in common with anyone, and I felt like a foreigner, an outsider, I was a little less than perfectly comfortable. “Deep breaths, Jenn, deep breaths….”
I distinctly remember one of the tactics I used, when we first got here and I was first venturing out: I reminded myself that, when it comes down to it, everybody poops. I don’t mean to be crass, it isn’t like I envisioned people going to the toilet, it was just a reassuring notion to think that, even that tough-looking guy over there, the one who looks like he could beat me to a pulp without much effort? (gulp!) – He poops, just like the rest of us. That stuck-up woman behind the counter at the shop? She poops. It elicited a little up-tick at the corner of my mouth as I chuckled inwardly, it’s true; it helped me relax into my new environment, confident that, although I was very new and ‘green’, we were all actually on the same playing field, deep down. (I suppose this strategy is probably akin to the public speaking ‘picture your audience naked’ tactic?….)
Continue reading Greeting As Friends