Opportunities are almost always in the moment. When we notice a chance to strike up a conversation with the new guy at work, or to initiate that first hang out with a new colleague–many of us freeze up with reasons not to act on these opportunities. Long-ingrained beliefs trigger our anxiety about why we shouldn’t make these moves:
“It’s just too risky. You’ll embarrass yourself. He’ll think I’m weird. She’ll think I’m dorky. I’ll be too awkward. He’ll think I’m boring. He’ll say no.”
My roommate had some young kids over to babysit yesterday, so we all decided to go the local park. Besides our group being there, across the park was a younger kid shooting hoops on his lonesome. While my roommate played imagination games with the kids, I kept looking over at the young kid playing basketball and thought about how much I’d love to shoot hoops with him. I used to play basketball all through school and enjoyed it, but the competition of the high school team turned me off, and I stopped playing it altogether.
Long story short, my heart wanted to go and ask him if I could shoot some hoops with him, but my mind raced about why that wasn’t a good idea. I sat conflicted as I imagined that this kid was probably in high school and wouldn’t know how to respond to my request. Maybe he would think I was strange, or the fact that I was an older female and of a different race than him (considering all the tension regarding racism lately) that I might be up to something. I consulted my roommate on my feelings regarding wanting to go play with him:
“That’s a great idea!! Do it!” She said with enthusiasm (she is naturally more extroverted than me, which balances me out well). 🙂
So I did it. I walked over and asked to shoot some hoops with him. To my surprise, he was more than happy to pass me the ball and let me hit the backboard a million times over. Not only that, but he was impressed with my skills (I’ve got some 3-point shoots still in me) and wanted to know more about my basketball involvement. I got to asking him some questions about his life too, and we bonded over this brief interaction. As he talked about high school, he expressed his shyness that prevented him for trying out new activities like Theater. I told him, “Go for it! I wish I would have tried theater when I was in high school. I was too worried about what my friends thought.” He smiled and said, “Alright, I’ll think about it.”
It’s funny how we worry so much about what other people think about us or will think if we decide to initiate first. Human connection is essential, and social anxiety inhibits us from making necessary connections for our happiness. Often, the other person is just as worried as we are.
Though this interaction was brief, it was still fulfilling, and it made my heart warm to connect with another soul. Thanks for reading, and I hope this post inspires you in future situations to just go for it. Peace and blessings