My friend Isobel has, on more than one occasion, turned to me with a look of surprise and said 'how do you make friends with everyone?!'. Shop assistants, bus drivers, bar tenders, I'll talk to just about anyone like I've known them for years. Tis a source of amusement for many, Isobel included.
Therefore, it is a juxtaposition that I am so terrified about tonight.
Tonight, one of my students has invited me out to meet her friends and the thought fills me with more than a mild sense of dread.
Since I turned 18, I have lived in 4 countries other than my native England and I've always done just fine - made friends, socialised - so I don't know why each and every time I reach a new place I doubt my ability to do it again.
Moving away is a bit of an assault on the senses - new place, new pace, new way of life. Everything just kind of smacks you in the face at once - new job, new language, new city. When the day is done, its tempting just to curl up in bed with a spoonful of Nutella and hibernate* (*This in no way alludes to how I have been spending the last three weeks in Seville *cough,cough*). Sooner or later, however, this little routine gets old - especially when you see your counterparts elsewhere in the world having an awesome time (damn news feed).
Its no secret that the best kept secrets of a town are known only by the locals and that life, alone, in another language can be pretty isolating. Unless you want to live life in your new town by the guidebook and spend your free time alone or worse, speaking English with other exchange students (never advisable), you're going to have to put yourself out of your comfort zone. When opportunities come knocking, you have to grab them with both hands even if you're inner worrier is bombarding you with every reason not to.
What if it's awkward?
What if I don't know what to say?
What if they can't understand me?
What if they don't like me?
For every awful 'what if' that's going through your head right now, there will be a worse 'what if' if you choose not to go: the wondering if those were the friends you could have had.
Lessons to be learnt:
- Even the most outgoing people get scared sometimes.
- Take a deep breath and tell the voice in your head to pipe down (Jenna Marbles style)
- Remember you've got nothing to lose but everything to gain.
So when six o'clock rolls around, I'll guess I'll have to suck it up, open the door and hope I don't make an arse of myself.