Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Asking Questions Made Me Enjoy Social Events

Read my recently Featured Post on the BlogHer Network.   

Do you get nervous in social situations? How do you power through that anxiety?

(sub-title) Medals and Spills

Let's face it, marathoners are not typically a subdued bunch. As the host opened the front door to the after-race party, the laughter and conversation overwhelmed me. What was I doing here? Sure, I'd just completed my first half marathon, but these people were "real athletes", each wearing their newest Finisher medal. I was just a nerd in running shoes.

ask questions when you're nervous
Image: William Murphy via Flickr via Creative Commons license
However, completion of anything for which you've trained for 16 weeks gives you a certain level of confidence. What I desperately needed was to sit down in a quiet space, or so I thought. But as so many of us have encountered, sometimes you just have to be the newbie. We all have to take a turn and do our best to get through it.

The chatter of the adrenaline-fueled guests was encouraging. I entered the kitchen which was laden with snacks beside my partner, who had just completed his fastest marathon, his PB – personal best. "Congrats," these almost-strangers-to-me said to him.

And then the questions began. How did you take that much time off your previous record? What kind of training schedule did you follow?

I reached for a cracker topped with something that looked held together with mayonnaise. Ah-ha – ask a question! I can do this, I think to myself.

"How did your race go?" I say to the gal also reaching into the same bowl. She tells me that this is her 100th marathon, and that she feels great. She took up running because... and she talks for ten minutes. We agree that the lasagna should be sampled next.

The man holding the overflowing plate beside me says that he's looking for a coffee and some butter. It seems that Bulletproof coffee is the rage. He takes the opportunity to share with me the benefits of a high-fat diet. Tomorrow I decide, I will buy butter.

The third person I meet is mopping up the cranberry-coloured drink he'd spilled on the floor. "Can I help you," I ask.

"Not my day," he laughs, as he gets off his scraped knee. "This is the second time I've spilled. This," he says, pointing to what was sure to be black and blue tomorrow, "happened at the finish line."
It seems he had taken a tumble in his exuberance to finish his 21.1 km (13 miles) in his first half marathon. "No longer a virgin," I quip back (oh my gosh, I'd made a joke).

As a bona fide introvert, social occasions can be grueling for most of us. I used to clutch a plastic cup and carry around an empty Chinet dinner plate, strictly for my own comfort. A protection, a barrier of sorts. But since I adopted "just ask questions" that day, attending an event has become much more enjoyable.

What I've learned since is that almost everyone wants to share their story. Everyone wants an audience to hear what brought them to this moment in time standing in front of you. And nothing is better than celebrating with someone, with or without a Finisher medal, because we've all experienced a spill sometime.

How a half-marathoner dealt with a social setting. (Click to Tweet)

How asking the question eased my nerves. (Click to Tweet)

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