Whenever I attend networking events or just any event where I don’t know many people, I feel a sense of anxiety and nervousness. Does anyone out there feel the same or similar?
Tonight, I attended a happy hour with the coaching program I’m in right now. I knew about… 0 human beings there. All of our classes are virtual so I’d never actually met anyone in person until today.
It really didn’t matter though. I was on a mission – a mission to never let fear decide for me.
So I entered through the doors and was welcomed with a room full of human beings I didn’t know. Thankfully, there was a table with name tags to divert my attention and give me a chance to look busy looking for mine but damn, it was too easy.
Now I had to get a drink and find a familiar face.
Eventually I did find someone I recognized – our cohort’s leader. Thank the good Lord!
She introduced me to someone else in my cohort and it went from there.
But what I want to say is that when I take a look at the room filled with human beings talking, getting to know each other, catching up, laughing, chilling on beer and wine, and looking social… I know, simultaneously, the level of anxiety in the room is through the roof.
I know people hesitate, are worried about who they’re going to talk to next, how they’re going to transition, how they don’t want to be the one alone looking to join a group. I know people are in their heads sometimes. I know because I’m them.
There’s more than meets the eye. And to me, knowing that leads me to self-compassion and compassion. Self-compassion that I’m not the only one feeling nervous or anxious. Compassion that we’re in this together and we’re human.
It is so humbling and relieving, to be honest. And sometimes we just need to step back, get out of our heads, and remember that we are already connected to a world bigger than us.
And the best thing we can do, and one of the scariest things we can do is show up.
That’s it. No guarantee of participation, no guarantee of what’s going to happen or how it’s going to happen. Just show up.
Let the anxiety and nervousness melt away knowing that you are not the only one wanting to but also afraid to connect and be seen. Show up and acknowledge the others that have also shown up in spite of worry and hesitation.
Let your guard down a little – remember that no one can take anything away from you unless you decide to allow it. Remember that your worth is derived from what’s inside, what’s true – not anyone else’s perception of you, and definitely not yours.
So chill out. Grab that beer, swirl that wine, make some eye contact, smile, breathe deep, and know you’re in good company.
In social settings, what are some thoughts that go on in your head? What do you think would make it easier to meet new people, open up, and engage (besides booze haha)?