I feared the worst, and the worst didn’t happen.
After evaluating my social circle, I realized I needed to get out there and meet more people. Most of my closest friends are recently married, which is normal for a 25-year-old. And while I did not yet feel a social void, I knew I should get out a bit.
I had heard about a church that attracts a lot of young adults, so I thought that would be a good place to start. I found a phone number on the church website and called to see what activities they would be doing in the near future. The man I talked to seemed to be the leader and was somewhere in his late forties. He told me about a single adult event they were hosting. It was an hour away, and while I wasn’t a fan of the drive, I was willing to make a sacrifice.
“Sounds good!” I told him. He told me about some other people who were going, and they agreed to pick me up.
The day came, and as I waited for them to arrive, they texted me: they had a flat tire and I should go ahead and drive by myself.
Maybe it’s not meant to be, I immediately thought. Maybe I should go home.
My car had been acting weird and had died earlier that day, and I was afraid it would happen again. I would be an hour from home, not know anyone, and it would be well after dark. Still, I gave it a minute before I made my decision: “I’m going.”
So I drove 40 minutes, and as I was looking for what I thought would be a big nice church, the GPS said I had arrived. But it didn’t look like a church, or have a sign. It was a cement brick building, very small and in need of a good paint job. It reminded me of a one-room schoolhouse. About six cars sat in the parking lot–fewer than I expected. And the two women I spotted walking in appeared much older than I was.
“Could that be the church?” I wondered. And what age group were the people in this “singles event” anyway? I hadn’t asked. “What if they are all in their late 30’s and older?”
I sat in my car for a minute, letting doubts and “just go home” run through my mind. But I told my fears, “No, I didn’t drive an hour to chicken out now.”
As I walked to the door I still thought, “You can go another time, no one will even know you left.” Then, my last thought, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
With that I opened the door and instantly heard lots of voices coming from beyond the small foyer. I caught my breath and turned the corner to see about 20 people—mostly my age—talking and engaging in lively discussion. I scanned the room, not expecting to know anyone, but hoping to have a clear direction, or an “in” to a conversation. Just then a girl made eye contact and waved at me. I smiled and nervously, excitedly made a bee line to her. She introduced herself and as I went to shake her hand she gave me a hug, followed by the three other girls in the circle. I don’t think I had hugged someone so quickly in a long time.
Then, a guy walked over and gave me a hug! It caught me off guard, until I realized he was a friend from high school.
“What are you doing here?” he said excitedly. We caught up a little and he helped to introduce me to other people.
It was a great evening. We all hung out for a while, finding many things in common. We even planned a salsa dancing event over dinner. Then, we all played laser tag, a first for me. (My team lost, but I placed 7th out of 34; I was a little proud of that.) We hung out more than four hours and even then I still didn’t want to leave.
It was a great evening, yet it was a night that almost didn’t happen.
Fear talks us out of so many things—good things. I had to talk myself out of listening to the irrational fears mulling around in my head. I was thinking about worst case scenarios, but none of those fears became reality. The group was my age. My car didn’t break down. We did get along and we did have things to talk about. Beyond all that, I overcame my fears and saw myself as brave.
When we listen to our irrational fears, we usually miss out and oftentimes have regret. So go ahead: Go mingle with a new group. Go try online dating. Go ask that girl out. What’s the worst that could happen? Realistically? The worst, as I see it, is potentially missing out.