Creeping people out, or as I like to call it, making friends.

            When I was in my last two years at George Fox University I made zero friends at school.  I had decided to live off campus which at Fox meant you could get out of participating in many things that would help me make said friends and for some reason I thought that was a good thing and signed up!  Yay! I was working almost full time for Este'e Lauder and got plenty of great girl time with my co-workers and had a chunk of really good friends outside of school.  I thought I should work hard at work and school, get out, get a bigger job-that was the whole enchilada for me.  Also, because I didn't have the built in friends that come from living on campus and actually participating in things it felt kinda like a club I didn't belong in.  YOLO hadn't been invented yet so I was firmly in the practical camp of "it is what it is".

            Then one beautiful day after a communications class, this darling girl chased me down.  She said some nice things and asked for my phone number.  Mystified, I gave it to her and went on my way.  Then the strangest thing happened.  She called me.  Like on the phone.  I was truly shocked by this.  She asked if I wanted to go to a soccer game and my mouth made yes sounds before my brain could think of all the other things I thought I should do.  I was nervous about it.  I had never been so officially friended in my life (Facebook had also not been invented yet).

            I had the best time with her.  She was smart, kind, funny, thoughtful and totally absolutely adorable and so much fun to be with.  She loves the sun more than me which is impossible  but has led to many outdoor adventures together like inner tubing behind some seriously crazy boat drivers on a few gorgeous Oregon lakes.  We were baptized together and graduated college together.  We were in each other's weddings (I love her enough to be in, like an hour worth of pictures in the snow on Mount Hood in a bridesmaid's dress).  She went and married this awesome man and had two little girls that LIGHT THE WORLD ON FIRE with how fantastic they are.  We traveled as a foursome to Hawaii and then a second time with a sweet baby along for the adventure. She brings my heart joy when I think of her.  My Mama loves her.  We have been friends now for over 17 years.  And I would have missed out on her if she hadn't been brave and asked for my number.     

            There is a whole world of possibility in an unmet friend.   

            Serena firmly changed my outlook on being intimidated about talking to a new person.  I had never walked up to someone like that and introduced myself so I didn't know what to do with it at first, but then it was such a truly nice gesture.  It made me feel included, wanted, special.  What a lovely thing to do for someone! 

            If I believed in reincarnation I would say that somewhere along the way I was a golden retriever because I walk into a room and all I see are potential friends.  My Dad was the same way.  He could tell anyone he had just met a good story.  Usually about Alaska.  Or camping. Or cars.  Or childhood dogs.  Or childhood dogs in cars...anyway, it was a quality that drove me crazy as a teenager sitting outside a parts store for two hours while my Dad told the parts guy about his trip to Alaska, but as I got older I absolutely loved that about him. He helped me out big time at many of my jewelry shows, being my right hand man, and he would chat up our booth neighbors, the people running the show, my customers, any soul that would walk near enough.  When he passed away, the CITY of Lake Oswego sent me a card about how very much they would miss him at the Market.

            What an exceptional gift to offer up to the world.  To be friendly enough that a city notices.  To make people feel included.  To see friends everywhere and share your stories.   

            I think in any group of people, there is a very healthy percentage (like, most) that would say they feel uncomfortable, out of place, alone, not included, on the outer circle or some variation of awkwardness.  I don't think many of us walk into a room and feel like we own it, so mercifully we are all in this awkwardness together.  That person to your left-probably has a hard time talking to people.  The person on your right that looks like they have it all together probably wishes someone would make them feel truly included.  We are all in this weird dance even if it seems like it's only just little me that feels like everyone is friends with everyone else in a room of people.  It's hard to walk up to a stranger and offer your quivering self esteem on the altar of rejection.  I have had it backfire on me many times.    

            Recently I was in a room full of artists and I walked up to a lady whose art I had admired and tried to strike up a conversation about her work.   She looked at me like she would rather put out a campfire with her face than keep talking to me.  We talked for a horrid two minutes of clear annoyance for her and I moved on.  I don't know her.  She doesn't know me.  I don't know what happened.  I can fill in blanks like-"I said something wrong," or "She doesn't like how I look," or "She doesn't think I'm a real artist," or "She doesn't think I'm worth talking to," but why?  Maybe she had killer heartburn.  Maybe her shoes hurt.  Maybe she's just R.U.D.E.  Whatever the story, I don't need to be in it.  Two minutes does not define my worth.  And here's some good news, I actually don't have time to be friends with the whole world.  Bye, Felicia!  Not everyone fits in my specific tribe.  We are all beautifully different and have our own set of people out there who are good fits for us.        

            But when it works...oh, how wonderful it is!  Instead of "what's the worst that could happen", what's the best? 

            I also recently tried to imitate my dear Serena and intentionally friend a wonderful woman that I thought it would be great to get to know.  The problem was, I would only see her at church and she was like, super speedy to get out the door and I could never catch her.  So one Sunday when I was wearing massive heels I may have chased her through the lobby.  Yup.  It's like it sounds.  I shouted her name too, like the cool, collected person I am.  People turned around.  Like almost all the lobby people.  It was a moment.  I recall that she actually used the words, "creeped her out" or some nonsense.  The next Sunday I also used my very good judgment to honk loudly and scare the crap out of her and her husband as they walked to their car from the lobby.  I don't understand why she thinks I'm creepy.  Somehow she saw past my people skills (that were not nearly as classy as Serena's) and she has become a dear friend.  She enjoys being a bystander now as I creep other people out in an effort to make friends.  I'm pretty sure it brings her a lot of joy.       

            There is a quote that says, "Sometimes miracles are just good people with kind hearts."  My friends are all miracles in my life.  My sweet tribe.  The beautiful people who let me be me and cheer for my best because, to quote Pitch Perfect 3, "We're family and family lifts each other up".  I can't imagine missing out on any one of them because one of us was too afraid to say hello.  It can feel like we are getting into people's bubbles but I would rather take that chance than miss out on speaking to someone who really needed a friend right that minute, or missing out on someone who is just the miracle I need in my life.      

            Let's go be miracles.        


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