It's funny how we learn and relearn the same lessons over and over again in our lives. It's unavoidable, really, and nothing worth crying too much about. This is the way with humans. Some things we learn quickly- like the alphabet or how to tie our shoes- because we must do them repeatedly in a short time frame.
But other things, social things mostly, the learning is spread out over time; the right combination of social strangeness only comes along every year or two.
Tonight I found myself standing on a corner in Portland, the rain coming down hard, and I wasn't sure where the rest of my group had gone for dinner. I had no phone numbers. I had a vague idea of the restaurant they went to, but when I got there they weren't there and so I stood on a street corner, waiting. For what, I'm not sure.
This horrible feeling came over me, the one that doesn't rear its head too often, the one that made me feel like I did not belong. Sometimes traveling alone can be amazingly refreshing, but other times it can be plain old lonely.
And so I found myself with two options: go back to the room and order room service OR text a woman I'd met a few minutes earlier who had invited me to eat with a smaller group. Pride and social anxiety made me hesitate about the latter; knowledge based on experience made me realize that the former would end in tears, eating pizza in a strange hotel room with hours to go before it was time to sleep.
So I texted. And I had a great dinner with three people who were inviting and welcoming and smart and friendly. Also, kind of famous.
So what was the lesson? To trust that I am great! To trust that big groups suck sometimes, that moving a bunch of people around a city can get tricky, but that it's not something to take personally. To remember that it's not embarrassing to ask if I can eat with someone, but to feel perfectly comfortable and confident when I do.
Middle School, man. Are we all just living in it eternally?