Right so! This is my first blog post and although I am aching to write on mildly-controversial topics in a world both Christian and secular, I think it best to begin with a very serious, personal story. It is a traumatizing tale for me to recount so perhaps I can reach some sort of Christian equivalent to Nirvana by fleshing it out.
I was having a drink with a girlfriend and it was a classy, Sex-in-the-City moment; innocent, tactful gossiping over cocktails, our conversation flowing like a stream. However, as we had chosen a popular, hideout bar, we were surrounded by fellow uni-students which meant that, statistically-speaking, we were bound to encounter people that we knew. But you know how it is, there are nights when you and your bff become so warped into a conversation that it’s as though any contact with the outside world becomes a physical struggle. And so, it wasn’t long before a few friends – yes they were our friends – greeted us and joined our table. The conversation lost its flow and we became locked in the frigid throes of social Siberia.
It was a moment of great testing for me because, even in these trivial, pub moments, I recognize the opportunity to show graceful love; listen to people’s stories, ask questions, kill down that grudging inner voice when they fail to reciprocate with questions for me. I reminded myself that I want to walk away from social situations and be remembered for being “really nice.” Cool or funny wouldn’t hurt, but if anything, nice would be fine.
Unfortunately, my “act like a loving Christian” drive was failing and perhaps it didn’t help when the conversation suddenly focused on one girl who said:
“So I got a job interview at Starbucks…and I was really bad in the interview…and so I didn’t get the job…but I really didn’t want it anyways.”
My face paled over. If this girl had commitment issues with Starbucks, I could only imagine what her love life was like.
I glanced over at my friend and said in a perfectly audible voice:
“Gotta get outta here.”
We escaped. We left the group, made a pit-stop at the bar, and snuck outside to sip our drinks beneath the streetlights. I wondered if we were displaying signs of antisocial behavior.
It was chilly so I decided to get my jacket. I ducked back to our group of friends. They quieted when I approached as though waiting for me to deliver some sort of clever, returner line, like, “I’m Bach!” Instead, I flashed them a don’t-mind-me smile, seized my jacket, and did a U-turn back towards the outside.
In retrospect, that was strange.
I re-joined my friend and all we could say was:
“We should probably go back.”
So she and I returned to the group like little kids who threatened to run away and then waddled back home in time for dinner. The group ignored the fact that we had deliberately left them for a good twenty minutes and continued talking. But this time, a few girls struck up a conversation with us. We started exchanging funny stories and I found myself laughing out loud. Gradually, my urge to escape again withered away.
It ended up being an enjoyable night. My friend and I walked away, reminiscing over the evening and wondering why we had been so reluctant to socialize in the beginning. You could say that that group nursed us back to social health.
And thus, my heartfelt story concludes on a didactic note! Don’t be cliquey. Don’t drink too many cocktails. Be open to speaking to others. Save those gotta-get-outta-here anxieties for actual, uncomfortable moments, not times like the one described above when we were surrounded by friends. Am I on-point? What would you define as cliquey?
Photo by Garrett Brown