Be the Invitation to Belong

Noel - Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 4, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I have always had a great magnetic attraction for the person in the corner. The person that radiates shy behavior and low self-esteem. When I see that someone is trying to remain off the map, in total seclusion from a crowd, I am immediately drawn to them. No one, in true sincerity, wants to be left alone. There is a greater desire, maybe even a dream, to fit in, to belong.

I will rewind back to 10th grade chemistry class, where I had an incredible encounter, and challenge, with a person that I barely knew. She was a girl that seemed to have developed strong defense mechanisms for all people that sought interactions or conversations with her. “Perhaps she was offended by conversation, and automatically saw the conversation starter as a predator,” I thought. This only made me pursue a friendship even more, so if this was her true intention, to keep people away, she was going about it the wrong way.

In a classroom full of rowdy immature teenagers, I made my way past them, to the girl’s desk, in the top right corner. I introduced myself, and watched her startled nature in return. She stared at the ground, and then hesitantly replied to my greeting by muttering her name, making no eye contact. Every single day, from that day on, I initiated conversations with her, none of them lasting that long. I considered myself, and still do, pretty non-threatening, but I noticed that she always seemed to ready herself for doom every time I approached her desk. She was either wrapped up in a book of Anime, or she would be drawing an Anime character, which she did very well. But every time I approached, she would ashamedly hide it and stare at the floor. I have always wondered what was going through her head in this time of “warming up”; and it definitely took her a long time to “warm up” to me and my consistent conversations.

After a while, to what I remember as a matter of weeks, she would approach me, before I her. This was a large step of progression and I was thrilled. She even drew me as an Anime character, which I see as a compliment to the highest degree. It also meant that she was comfortable around me.

This is the ultimate goal to set for yourself. To make sure everyone feels comfortable around you, and to make sure everyone feels loved and a great sense of belonging. In my eyes, every one being is equal and deserves equal treatment. Be the invitation to belong.