A software engineer, an advertising student, a kindergarten teacher, a communications executive, a researcher in physics and I. We came from all nationalities and our ages ranged from the early twenties to the early fifties. What an incongruous sight.
I joined this small group of strangers I found online in an arts meet-up group for dinner a few days back. Now most people would not find that strange in the least. Unless you’re socially anxious and introverted most of the time.
That’s me. Put me in a room full of strangers and my knees tremble. I feel an inexplicable urge to run. My mind blanks out and I cannot even remember how to introduce myself beyond the “Hi, I’m Meera” stage. My eyes bulge and my mouth gapes until I look like I’m mimicking a goldfish.
In any case, one of my New Year resolutions for 2013 was to get over that. As all resolutions go, I never did it. Sure, I met new people through friends. It wasn’t that bad, since I could rely on my friends to act as a buffer of sorts. I reconnected with old friends that I hadn’t met in years, but they didn’t count since they weren’t completely strangers.
But then came the turning point. In 2014, I found a group of art enthusiasts online and in a moment of daring, RSPVed to a dinner they were organising. The regret came instantly, but along with it came a small thrill of knowing that I was on my way to fulfill that 2013 resolution.
The day came, and ten minutes before I was supposed to meet them, I was loitering suspiciously outside the restaurant we were having dinner at. My heart was pounding and I was considering ditching the plan altogether (really, what was I thinking?!). I took a deep breath, tweeted, and was off, stumbling into the wrong floor and was being greeted enthusiastically by a group of people holding a farewell party for an unknown person. After five lines of conversation, we realised I wasn’t there for the farewell and I left, mortified. In desperation, I asked the restaurant staff for the table that was booked by the organiser of my gathering and was directed to it (don’t ask why it didn’t occur to me to do this first). I cannot describe the relief I felt at finally meeting her and hitting the point of no return.
Having sat through the dinner, I think I can safely say that I will soon be able to cross that resolution off my list. It isn’t hard to get over something once you put your mind to it. Especially when you tell yourself that having done it once, successfully, you can always do it again.