She glanced at the clock in her car. She had arrived at the venue the group had suggested but she was at least 25 minutes early. She didn’t want to go in yet. She didn’t want to be the first one there. What would she do once she entered the lounge bar to find that no one had yet arrived? No, she would feel too uncomfortable, too awkward. She didn’t want anyone who was already in there to think that she was meeting a group of people she met only in the virtual world of online meetups. She was sure they’d judge her. She wanted to avoid any awkward situation so she stayed in her car, watching the clock get closer to the time in which she was supposed to meet the group.
The group consisted of men and women between the ages of 30 and 40 who were looking to meet that “special person” to share their lives with. She knew she needed this group. Her purpose was twofold. She needed this group not only to help her find a significant other so that her pain of loneliness could finally be defeated. But she also needed it to help her face her fear of being in social situations. However, her fear currently overpowered her; it consumed her every thought.
As she pulled her key from the ignition, she thought about sending a text to the group’s organizer, telling him she had an emergency and could not make it in. She sighed. What is the big deal? she asked herself. You are not a child. Just go in there, smile, and be pleasant.
She took her seat belt off, opened her car door and stepped out, closing and locking the door as she looked over her surroundings. Locating the lounge bar across the street, she took in a deep breath and bravely took her steps towards it.
The windows were dark as she approached; she could not see who, if any, had already arrived. As she stepped inside, she looked around the lounge to find scattered groups of people conversing and greeting each other. She recalled the instructions on the website: look for the black and white balloons. She glanced around again, her heart pounding, her mouth dry. Everything inside her told her that it was ok if she just turned around and went home. She conveniently gave herself permission to miss this event, lying to herself that she didn’t need a group like this. She fought back. Just say hello, she thought. But then what? What else would she say? Would she have anything interesting to talk about? Would she say something stupid? Trip over her words? What if she couldn’t contribute to the discussions? What if she interrupted a private conversation? What if? What if? What if?
She spotted the black and white balloons, took in a deep breath and slowly walked towards the group that had already gathered there. She found her target: a man and two women engaged in conversation. As she approached them, all kinds of scary thoughts invaded her mind. She felt the vibrations of her body with each step she took. She felt the fear within every fiber of her being. But she did it anyway.
“Hello,” she said to the small group. “My name is Cathy.”