I remember it like it was yesterday. First, the butterflies in my stomach started and, though not a constant presence, they seemed to grow every time I thought about what was coming. Then, I started taking …. deep … breaths, always a telltale sign of stress for me. Would my clothes be okay? What about my hair? Would I have anything to talk about? How would I remember everyone’s name? These girls had been together for so long, how would I find my place? Was there even any room for me?
It’s a feeling that never changes, I guess. The insecurity, the wonder, the nervousness that comes with being ‘new.’ I could hear my mom’s voice in my head “don’t be shy,” she would say. Right, don’t be shy. “But don’t try to hard either,” I told myself. I’ve done that plenty, and that’s no fun. So, don’t talk about yourself too much, but let them get to know you. Ask questions, but not too many. Be helpful but don’t overwhelm. First impressions are important, right? Especially since I’m always, secretly hoping to make instant connections and fast friends. Plus, I’m easily intimidated, by girls older or younger, shorter or taller, more talented, more talkative or more transparent. Not to mention an introverted extrovert with awkward tendencies. It’s a helluva juggling act, I tell you.
On my first day, I was ready early. Like really early. Blame it on the anxious energy, which makes me over stimulated. Sounds get louder, lights get brighter and my kids were asking A LOT of me, so I left … early. It actually worked out fine, because I found a parking lot, pulled in and had time for a cliché-laden pep-talk and a few more … deep … breaths, then I made a decision. This new undertaking, the new group of women and the first impressions that I was about to make were going to be an opportunity to practice what I preach. I value authenticity. I find myself drawn to genuine people and I want to be that for others. I tell my kids all the time “the world doesn’t need you to be just like anyone else, the world needs you to be you.” So, I went, and I was. Thankfully there was work to do, plenty to occupy my attention and at the end of it all, I felt good about the girl that I introduced to the group. It wasn’t the first time I was ‘new’ but it was the first time that I knew enough to be intentional and authentic.
I remember this like it was yesterday because it basically was. I knew this would be a welcoming group, but it’s never easy to be ‘new.’ Whether it’s a new job, a book study, or a ball team for your kiddos, as moms we face plenty of ‘new’ opportunities. Sometimes I try and convince myself that it’s easy for everyone else, and I often assume that I’m the odd (wo)man out. I might be an adult, but when I walk into a room as the ‘new girl’ I might as well be six years old again. If you’re a ‘new girl,’ momma, I’m right there with you. In fact, I wish we could walk in together. Remember, ‘you do you.’ There’s no one else in the world that can offer that company / team / group / class what you can. They need your unique gifts, your point of view and your sense of humor. They’re lucky to have the chance to include you in their ranks. You’ll be a natural fit and a game changer, the one that ‘feels like she’s been here all along’ and a ‘what did we ever do without her?’
Before you know it, they’ll be another new girl and you’ll look back and realize that without even trying, you found your place; it was waiting for you all along.