I’ve previously shared some of the aphorisms my dad said over and over (and over and over…) while my sisters and I were growing up. This week I put one of them to good use.
Draw a wider circle.
This was said to us whenever we’d whine The other kids won’t play with me! or They’re leaving me out! or Nobody likes me! My parents knew, wisely, that often it was the case of us excluding ourselves, making assumptions about others. Dad counseled us to instead assume that the other kids were just WAITING for us to join them, to just join in gleefully and confidently.
I didn’t really get that back then, as a kid, but the advice has served me well as an adult. Dad’s voice would whisper to me at work gatherings when I was the newbie and surely everyone else had all the friends and colleagues they needed. At cocktail parties where I felt I’d rather hug the wall than interrupt a formed group.
Draw a wider circle. Include yourself in it.
And I would. Hand out, I’d introduce myself and smile, faking confidence myself and in the group’s willingness to open itself up to me. I can’t remember it not working. I do remember it being hard. Each time.
I did it again this week — I risked rejection and awkwardness.
I was in Atlanta for a business meeting. My last night there I realized that one of my Facebook friends, someone in another part of the adoption triad, lived in Atlanta.
Now, this person and I haven’t hung out together much online. And you might say that regarding the one field we both play on, we are on opposing sides. There were plenty of assumptions that could be made about each other. Still, kind words had been exchanged on occasion, which led to an arm’s length friendship on Facebook.
Hmmm, I thought. Should I make contact? Extend an invitation for something benign and short like coffee?
Draw a wider circle.
What the hell. I had nothing to lose. If she snorted in disgust, I’d never know. I’d use a little humor and give her an out in case it got awkward.
I just figured out you’re in Atlanta. I’m here until tomorrow afternoon. I know it would be weird to meet (Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!), but if you’d like to and are able to have coffee tomorrow, I would be happy to meet you.
Not only did the answer come back as yes, but it was practically a Hell Yes. And not only did I meet Jeni, but I also met her dog Gracie Mae as well. And not only did we have coffee, we ended up having lunch. And not only did we spend the morning together, we spent the afternoon together, too.
I was hesitant, when she offered to drive me to the airport, to impose on her. Then Jeni said the words any adoptive or birth mother cannot withstand hearing from an adoptee:
What!? Are you rejecting me? Don’t you you like me? Are you going to abandon me?
We dissolved into peals of laughter. I knew then she was sincere about driving me and I was thrilled to have an extra couple of hours with my new friend.
My Dad’s a smart one. I got an entire perfect day out of his advice.
(And thanks to Jeni, I got 5 People magazines to read on the plane!)
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