Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Auntie Seraphic & Scared Wallflower

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

This weekend, the family ministry in my parish will hold an event for the single, widowed and separated. I confess that I'm not very involved with parish activities beyond attending Sunday's Mass and I fear that if I go, I'll be alone in a corner for awhile and then go away. Moreover, all my friends are either non-practicing or have boyfriends/girfriends and I do not think I'll be able to drag anyone with me. What should I do?

Thanks in advance,
Scared Wallflower.

Dear Scared Wallflower,

You don't have to go. It's as easy as that. You don't want to go? You don't have to go.

I have never been to a "Single, Separated, Divorced, Widowed" event in my almost 40 years.

Wait--I did go to a "Singles" dance when I was 19, and a stranger reeking of sweat and desperation grabbed my arm. That put me off Catholic "Singles" dances forever.

But you've written to me of this event, so I am guessing you actually want to go. And now I am curious about it. Is it just a tea party, or is there going to be a speaker, or what? [Update: there is.] If it will just be a lot of standing around--dire. If there is a talk, then at least you'll have something to talk about. Just zoom up to whoever is pouring the tea afterwards and ask, "What did you think of the talk?"

The good thing about Single, Separated, Divorced and Widowed people is that they're probably all going to be in the same boat as you. They won't be able to drag friends along either. I envision you all retreating to every available corner, each imagining that every other Single there is the belle (or beau) of the ball. But actually every one will be dying for someone to go up to him/her and say "What did you think of the talk?"

Remember that someone is guaranteed to be even more shy than you. Watch them standing alone in their corner, nibbling miserably on a cookie, and walk right up to them. Smile and say, "Hi! I'm [real name]. What did you think of the talk?" When the conversation lags, say "Well, I guess we're supposed to circulate" and go say "Hi! I'm [real name]" to the next lonely-looking person. Give yourself a goal. Tell yourself that you're going to talk to at least THREE people. Once you have spoken to your three people, probably all elderly widows, you can go.

It's hard until you do it. It sure was hard for me back when I was a scared wallflower--which I totally was once, believe it or not. But it gets easier with practise. And you will get so good at it that for the rest of your life, lonely people at tea parties will call you blessed.

Grace and peace,


Madame Lefty said...

Speaking as someone who is horrifically shy around new people, I think the advice is sound.

I'd remind Wall Flower, that your goal should be to talk to three people, not three single good looking men. (If you do, you'll drive yourself crazy.)

I can't guarantee relationship success using that method, but you will feel that you accomplished something. I know I do, when I force myself to talk to people.

Kate P said...

But, but. . . if I don't go to events targeted at singles, how do I fend off the "You're Not Doing Enough" lectures????? Help, Auntie Seraphic!

Seraphic said...

Mme Lefty--you are so right.

Kate P: A) Never complain to partnered people about being Single; B) Say "Are we Pelagians?" in a voice of outrage.

Nekeisha said...

From my own personal wallflower experience, I say go. Just this month I attended a singles retreat alone. I made myself not invite my sister or friend (they aren't very practicing but my back-up in all situations). I needed to put myself out there. After checking in I hid in my room for a while and then because we had a session starting soon, I left my room and joined everyone. I just sat there and next thing I knew people were talking to me and I was in a conversation. Now I did not suddenly turn into a social butterfly but I made a few friends. Three weeks later some of us went to mass on Saturday and dinner on Sunday. I did not meet a guy (though I talked to a few) but I have a whole new social set of practicing Catholics (mainly female) and I have a little more confidence in myself. I am still a wallflower but I put myself out there once and I know I can do it again. I will be attending a Singles For Christ conference in a few weeks with my new friends where I hope to make a few more. Small steps.

Seraphic said...

Well done, Nekeisha!

theobromophile said...

I'm quiet and shy, but like people. A few weeks ago, I went to an event hosted by my alma mater; although I didn't know anyone there, since everyone graduated when I was in diapers, I did talk start talking to a very nice woman (about Seraphic's age) who likewise couldn't find anyone to talk to. We've become friends, and she's fixing me up with her colleague.

If you live in the belief that there are people who are just as weirded out by these things as you are, you'll be fine.

Also, I <3 Seraphic's retreat strategy: talk to a few people, and, if nothing is happening, depart.

Kate P said...

Answer (A) does work, except in the case of well-meaning relatives who march up and spout off advice without a word from you.

Answer (B) just plain cracked me up. Good one.

theobromophile said...

I also like Seraphic's answer, which is better than mine: [Innocent, confused look] "But I thought you said that I would find someone when I stopped looking!"