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,
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,