I moved up to the DC area in August of 2011. I knew a handful of people but that was it. I’m pretty extroverted but at that time I thought I was becoming more introverted and someone who didn’t mind being alone all the time. That lasted for about two weeks and then I was lonely.
I had started going to a church for a few weeks. They had a fall retreat one weekend someone told me about so I decided I’d go on that. I really wanted some friends. It was a few hours outside of the city so they made car arrangements for us to drive out there and back with someone that lived relatively close to us. I ended up getting paired up with three other guys for the drive.
By the day we were set to drive out there it ended up just being me and the one guy driving, the other two had bailed. So for three hours there I was riding in a car just me and a guy I’d never met before that moment. Three hours there and three hours back is quite a lot of time to have with a stranger. Luckily, I hate silence so I make sure there’s always talking.
Well, the guy I ended up riding with became one of my best friends in DC. In fact, he is now my roommate, Mike. It’s awesome.
Woody Allen made the well-known statement, “80 percent of success is showing up.” I’m no expert in success but I do usually know how to get involved and make friends: You just keep showing up.
If you are willing to put yourself into uncomfortable situations at times, certain results may surprise you. If you’re willing to put yourself into uncomfortable situations continually, amazing things can happen.
Often times we let fear keep us from stretching ourselves in new ways. We come up with really stupid excuses like, “I know what will happen,” or “I don’t really care.” When the truth is we should just be saying, “I’m too chicken to do that.” We can end up looking back on experiences and saying, “I didn’t fit in there,” or “I didn’t like that time in my life” and we find other reasons to blame it on, but the truth is it was likely because we were unwilling to keep showing up.
I’ll admit it. It’s not fun. No one likes feeling like they don’t belong somewhere or in a certain group. I was trying to make friends at a college club for a few weeks and I used to stand there and pretend I was on my cell phone so I didn’t just have to stand there awkwardly by myself. But I kept showing up every week and at every event, and in a matter of weeks I was someone who was running events.
You ever look at a guy like Ted Turner and wonder how he did what he’s done? He’s totally weird. I think he’s successful because he’s not afraid to be weird. He uses his weirdness to his advantage, in fact.
I would challenge us all to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. Talk to the people at work you never talk to. Go to that club after school that you’re interested in going to. Act like you belong somewhere you don’t think you do. Do something like that, and then do it again. And keep showing up. Heck, your future apartment arrangements might depend on it.