Hi, Church Family!
Some of you may or may not know that I am a pretty big introvert. I have limited amounts of social energy and I expend just about all of it every day! Social interactions tend to give me anxiety and make me a little bit nervous. While I’m certainly used to making a fool of myself in front of people I know, I still get a little uncomfortable when making first impressions (they don’t yet know that I’m a fool!).
When I accepted this job last year I knew that I would have to approach this socialization aspect with a different mindset if I was going to be successful at all with the outreach portion of my duties. I started asking myself the question “How you can you find comfort in an uncomfortable situation?”
I was just in New York City to celebrate a close friend’s 30th birthday. When we checked into our flights the night before, we noticed that none of us had seats with each other. Cut to boarding the flight the next morning. I was in a middle seat with a young woman by the window and another woman at the aisle writing in the journal (yes I’m nosy and yes I tried reading what she was writing). Middle seats are uncomfortable situations, both socially and physically (it’s a good thing I have the shortest of legs), but my friend was able to bargain with a flight attendant to have himself, our other friend, and myself moved to a row together after takeoff. When the flight attendant told me I could move after takeoff, the lovely woman in the aisle seat beside me asks “Are you moving to first class? What makes you so privileged?”
Uncomfortable situation. Anxiety spike. And honestly, probably a blank look on my face as I figured out how to diffuse the situation. After I told her we weren’t moving to first class, I asked her about herself. I noticed that she was writing a workout plan in her journal and discovered that she is a group fitness instructor and personal trainer in Sun City! From there, we had an instant connection and didn’t stop talking for about 30 minutes. A few minutes after the pilot turned off the seat belt sign, I left to go sit with my friends. Her name is Sharon and she’s my new best friend. I was able to find comfort in what started as an uncomfortable situation.
Later in the trip, I was introduced to what felt like fifty new people in a very short amount of time. All of them were friends of my friend and I knew no one. In reality, it was only 9 new people that weekend, but they all had big personalities. I was uncomfortable, but it was the start of what I knew was going to be a long day so I had to figure out how to get comfortable. I was casually making small talk with one of the women in the group and after asking a series of questions, I eventually found a connection with her and my anxiety dissipated almost instantly. I had these moments throughout the weekend.
And maybe about half-way through the second day, I came to a realization: My anxiety and discomfort were driven away by learning about someone else. I find comfort in familiarity, so I seek to make someone or something feel familiar.
To quote a popular Disney/Pixar movie, “Adventure is out there!” There is a world of new experiences at our fingertips, and sure it’s daunting and yes it makes some of us a little bit anxious. But I’ve found that leaning into this discomfort opens up new possibilities. As a church, we get to lean into this discomfort of transition as we start to experiment with different ideas. Look for the familiarity in what we’re doing and embrace the new connections you find. That’s where the blessings are!
Minister of Music and Outreach