Even though both high school and college are increasingly distant memories, I still suffer from “lunch table” syndrome, where I walk into a group and look desperately for a familiar, friendly face. I long to be “that kid” who is so secure that he or she can sit with anyone, or sit alone, and look contented in his/her own skin. But, after all these years of trying, I have to face the realization that I’m the one who stands nervously clutching the lunch tray, looking desperately around the cafeteria for a welcoming face.
On one occasion, my daughter and I agreed that both of us are comfortable participating in a conversation, but neither of us know how to get a conversation started. So, when we were together, long moments of silence would arise since we had nobody to kick off conversation for us. Nowadays, she’s a flight attendant and meets new people – both crew and passengers – just about every day. She says she’s gotten better at opening conversations. I’m a teacher, and though I have no problem opening STRUCTURED conversations, I’m still a flop in situations where the topics are more nebulous and potentially varied.
Just as some of my kids clung to security blankets, pacifiers, or other beloved objects, I need a security “lovey” when I go out in public. I think that’s why I married a man who can comfortably open a conversation with just about anyone. When we attend a social event, I’m like the toddler who has to warm up to the situation before I can leave his side, and then I venture only so far before I have to come back and touch base.
So, if you happen to see me, be sure and get the conversation rolling before I get that desperate look.