Friday, April 26, 2013

One Person, That's All - Take Two

As I mentioned before, I recently watched The Giant Mechanical Man. There's a part in the movie where a side character says something that defined another thing I've been thinking about. She said something to the effect of: 'It only takes just one person to make you feel special and valid, like you belong.'

I have known people who made me feel comfortable instantly when I met them. I felt like they accepted me and wanted to be my friend. Hopefully you've known at least one person like this. These types of people are especially great to meet when you are feeling uncomfortable at a gathering or social event when you don't really have anyone to talk to. They make you feel included, even if they hardly know you. They see your clothes, your hair, and your posture, but they don't care because mostly they see a fellow human being. The make you feel valid and special, like you belong.

From Wikipedia's different types of love: Xenia, hospitality. It was an almost ritualized friendship formed between a host and his guest, who could previously have been strangers. The host fed and provided quarters for the guest, who was expected to repay only with gratitude.

Acient Greece- a person takes a stranger into their home and provides for them, to be repaid with gratitude. That does not happen how, but the same principle can be applied in a social situation. You can bring a stranger into your life for the evening, treat them as a friend, and you will be repaid with gratitude for your kindness.

I've had people in my life that turned into friends, or that I may have only ever met them the one night, but they pulled me into a group conversation, or sat by me when I was the new girl. They saw someone alone and made them feel comfortable.

I try to be the person who sits by someone new, someone not new but alone, or who tells the person alone to come join the group. I know what it's like to be the loner in a social situation. You act like you don't care, but inside you keep hoping someone will come talk to you, sit by you. It can be hard to break into a group conversation, or sit by someone new.

Several years ago I decided to go to a group event in college even though I had no one to go with. I arrived just a couple minutes before it started (so I could scout out the seats after everyone had sat down) and saw an empty seat on the aisle next to some girls who liked nice. I took a deep breath and walked over, bent down and asked if I could sit there. The girls said, "No, we're saving that seat for our roommate." There was no, 'We could scoot over and make an extra seat' or 'Why don't you pull up another chair next to us' just 'No'.

My face must have turned bright red as I headed for some empty seats at the back. I sat by myself. I headed home right after the speaker was done. It was totally understandable that they were saving a seat for their roommate, but as a young adult trying to make friends, it was a bit of a blow.

The opposite has happened to me also. I've had people pull me in and make me feel part of the group. The gesture showed that they noticed me and thought I was worth the effort it took reach out to me. I can remember them and the situation still.

If you can talk to the person alone, sit by someone new, invite a stranger to join your group of friends, you will be the one person who makes them feel special and valid, like they belong. You will make a big difference in their life. Even if you never meet them again, they will remember you.

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