Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Are You That Person at the Back of the Room?

That guy at the back of the room, the one at the edge of the party, the one in the bar who only talks to people who approach him? That guy isn't aloof. He isn't unfriendly.

That guy is me. I have been accused of being aloof and standoffish.

Could be you, too. Right? (Guy or gal, this is NOT gender-specific.)

I am shy. Most people don't guess that. I'm pretty much an introvert, although after a drink or three, you might beg to differ.

I don't like rejection (who does?) so I avoid putting myself out there.

At a party, I'll zero in on the person or two I know and hang with them all night. I don't work a room. Never could. I've no doubt missed interesting folk.

So have a set myself up for failure? Actually, no. I don't stay home and entirely avoid the situation.

Approach me, say hello, even toss a slight nod my way, and I'm ready to chat. A smile given gets a smile returned.

Know what?

Many, many people are the same. Just like us. Oh, they look friendly and outgoing in their immediate group. Remember what I said about zeroing in on the ones you know? Comfort zone. So you, we, look at them and think what a clique, bunch of snobs, stuck-up.

Of course, sometimes that is true. We do run the terrible risk of putting ourselves out there, saying hello first, introducing ourselves, whatever, only to find no interest, a down-the-nose glance, and a turn away.

It's happened. I didn't die. Sometimes you win.

My point?

Let me relate it to writing. I'm not convinced my stories or my book are great. Sometimes, not even really good. But I kinda do, and other people have thought so. When it came to the publishing world, the odds kept me from participating with serious intent for most of my younger life. Oh, I wrote. Plenty. Stories. A novel. I queried, some, not a lot. I expected rejection and got it, and it didn't kill me. I got a solid bite from an agent who rejected the manuscript. And a small publisher, when I decided I really didn't care about landing an agent and a deal with one of the Big Five, where I'd no doubt be buried alive, anyway. But I didn't stay home from the party.

Then someone said yes.

Sometimes you go to the bar and nurse a beer and go home alone. Sometimes you nod back when someone nods your way, and you go home with a hottie who may a great one-night toss, or may be a forever real thing.

Don't assume you won't win. Maybe you won't. But maybe you will. Maybe you'll be misunderstood, your reticence taken for arrogance. But maybe you'll connect. Don't be afraid.

One thing is sure. You never will if you don't go out and try. As "they" say, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Oh, and that other person, the one not talking, across the room, at the bar, the party, the one who looks so up-in-the-air? That person may be just like you. Like me. Smile.