I went to a wedding on Saturday night. I was touched to have been invited as the friendship was one where I wasn’t entirely sure how far it extended beyond the particular context where we see each other. There’s an invisible boundary between our public and private lives and it’s an act of faith and trust to invite a friend across that boundary.
Because this was an invitation that broke through the boundary, I was a little anxious about going as I wasn’t sure I would know many people there since this was a new circle to be invited into. And sure enough when I arrived I didn’t know anyone, although I recognised a few faces.
This is in fact my nightmare scenario: being in a roomful of people where I know no one. I needn’t have worried. I bit the bullet, introduced myself to someone who looked approachable and found myself chatting to several people before too long.
The wedding was lovely, my friend looked both stunning and very happy, and I had a really enjoyable evening with the people I shared a table with. I had fascinating conversations and we got into interesting topics – philosophy, political systems (two at the table were former Cabinet ministers and one had been a UN representative), poetry, history. We talked about substantial things, ideas and theories, and the evening flew by.
In truth, I had not been looking forward to the wedding at all. I was unsure about my outfit (turns out it was perfectly up to the job), I was unsure about lasting an evening with people I didn’t know, I was unsure about my ability to make conversation with people I might have nothing in common with; in short, I was dreading it. I was seeing it as an ordeal to be endured. I even (briefly) considered bailing.
To be clear, my dread was all about me and the risk that I would fail to rise to the occasion. If I have a dull time, I blame myself for not being interesting enough, for not having “normal” interests and hobbies that other people share.
I’m glad I didn’t let my dread stop me. Of course, I’m worn out today, but at least I can say it was worth it.