I was feeling nervous about an upcoming social engagement. I had no idea how my body would respond to being one hour way from home, socializing with people I hadn’t seen in years and worrying about having to hide my nervous energy with smiles and nods.
The weekend before at a community event I experienced a level of anxiety I hadn’t in a while. I honestly couldn’t pinpoint what triggered it, but I was stuck in that environment for hours too long. My husband told me that I was friendly and pleasant, and if it wasn’t for me letting him know that I was struggling, he would have never guessed. Those who actively prioritize their well-being are aware of their internal pulses and do a great job coping – even when highly stressed. The hours after the event were reserved for repair – a calm, quiet time at home.
Having not experienced the emotional success I had hoped for the weekend before, I was concerned about the upcoming social engagement. All week I told myself, “It may be fine. It should be fun!” and when Saturday night rolled around, I had butterflies but still felt alright.
When we arrived we were greeted with a spread of delicious appetizers. I sat on the living room floor, closest to the ottoman where the food was set out. I was quickly encouraged to take a seat on the couch and make myself comfortable. So we sat on the farthest end of the sectional, away from the other couple. From the conversation I could easily tell the extroverts from the introverts. I was taking everything in – consuming myself with every framed family photo on the living room walls, everyone’s unique tone and body language and conversation topics. I was quiet at first but as I relaxed I jumped in on hot topics and made sure to add my take. As the evening went on, I had moved to the corner of the sectional (the comfiest spot). I was settling in nicely.
Close to 11pm we were served the most scrumptious array of food – some familiar dishes and a few new ones. We filled our plates – the kids ate at the kitchen table while the adults resumed in the living room. It was casual and perfect. Indian food is unlike any homemade recipe I grew up on. It’s colourful, fragrant, full of texture and spice. I wished I could have eaten the second helping I was urged to take, but I was satisfied with just one. As we cleared our plates, I assumed the evening was coming to a close…until the hosts brought out multiple desserts. “If only I had worn my sweatpants,” I thought to myself as my top button pulled. At this point I thought I might as well just lay on the sectional.
Near midnight we got up to say our goodbyes, and as I was walking to the front door, I was scooped up by the host. She wrapped her arm around my shoulder, and with a warm smile guided me back into the kitchen to fill take-home containers. Her kind gesture was so natural for her. Here in this moment, she eased all my prior concerns.
As I moved at my own pace from the carpet to the corner of the sectional, I gained courage and opened myself up to the warmth I sensed in the room. Thanks to their hospitality my heart was reminded of the kindness of others.