I have a good friend, Melody. We met our first semester at college while living in the dorms when she stopped by my room, introduced herself, and asked if I’d like to come with some of the other girls to the cafeteria for dinner. We hadn’t really talked before and there was no real reason for her to stop by. I don’t think my door was open (they locked automatically and my roommate and I had a tendency to leave ours closed) and there were plenty of other girls living on our floor. I had moved up alone and from out-of-state and didn’t really know anyone else yet. It was early on in the semester, a reputation as a shut-in wouldn’t have had time to form much less merit a ‘rescue’ invite. We didn’t have any mutual friends; if I remember right she picked my door at random.
I’d always thought like that – a simple invitation to dinner had to be a planned affair, something with a concrete reason behind it. It didn’t even occur to me that she could have been bored or lonely, or interested in meeting people. I’d always been content to stay home and spend time either by myself or with my family. I didn’t realize how much I’d really needed or wanted to be around people until moving out. I also didn’t realize exactly how much joy there was in serving and working to make someone else happy. Dinner was fun, nothing spectacular, but she continued inviting me along on other random “adventures” – usually at the level of running to get laundry, editing papers, or picking something or someone up from on campus. I didn’t know how strong a bond could be formed from spending time with someone doing things that simply needed to be done. She never gave up on me, even when I’d flake out and stay home or leave events early. She just kept asking me to come along.
Until that year, I’d always been waiting to be invited, the invitee. It wasn’t until I got to know Mel that I realized I could also invite people in and didn’t need a reason to do so, that there was no reason I couldn’t. I didn’t need a special occasion or motive to go out of my way or to find out more about someone else. Mel lives far away now and we don’t get to spend much time together, but I still work on breaking out of my comfort zone and inviting the people who are close to me now. I believe we not supposed to try and make it through life on our own. I believe we’re here to help each other and to build relationships and connections. Alone, I wasn’t aware of how much better things were when shared with other people. Someone invited me into something better, and now I can do the same for someone else.
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