Being Open to New Experiences

Boy, did I break out of my comfort zone this weekend!  As a single person who at this point really believes he will stay that way forever (no pity, please – I’m actually quite content being a doting uncle and awesome friend), I figured correctly that it was high time to get used to doing things (i.e. social events) by myself.  I want to eat at amazing restaurants and take even more amazing trips throughout my life, and as a reality, I will have to do some of that solo.

Case in point – I was recently invited to a Friday night Cabaret event at the Dodge City Country Club (where, despite having been a few times, I am not a member).  I had tentative plans to go out of town for a Battle of the Bands my brother was playing in, but things on the planning front weren’t going as I would have liked, so I decided not to attend and take a risk.

As pathetic as it sounds, I was pretty anxious about going to the Cabaret…  I knew I would enjoy the music and visiting with those friends I knew would be there, but I was anxious and nervous to go to a somewhat-unfamiliar place and be thrown into a social scene I was not used to… by myself!  I wasn’t sure how the seating would work, or how anything would go, and not knowing everything about what I’m about to do sort of freaks me out because I’m anal-retentive that way (OK, in many other ways, too!).

To be honest, the first few minutes sitting with the young-but-still-slightly-older-than-me couple at my table was a bit awkward, probably thanks to my old-soul nature of feeling more comfortable and at ease with people who are not my age (this goes both directions!).  However, a few minutes later, another couple joined “the fray” and they were easygoing, friendly and great table-mates who – probably with no knowledge of the fact – made the whole process much easier.  We chatted for a little bit, I gave my now-staple answer about attending university, and we found a link – I had attended high school with their son, which provided for a good icebreaker.

And then, the three musicians and the three singers (two of whom I know and are awesome friends!) took their places facing the patio, the gorgeous, lush, green course behind them setting a beautiful backdrop and a wonderful ambiance for the evening.  Drinks and hors d’oeuvres in hand, the audience of around 120 became captivated by the beautiful voices and the sumptuous music, turning their seats to better hear old tunes and new ones.  It was truly a night to remember, and the weather was gorgeous – it was cool out with a light breeze, a genuine rarity for Kansas evenings in July.  It actually got downright chilly!

At intermission, I spoke with the father of my high school acquaintance and, taking a genuine interest in my desire to seek further education online, he told me about a great site where he listens to lectures from college professors who are at the top of their game in their fields (, if you are interested).  We spoke about the site and learning in general for a majority of the intermission, and this was just fun!  I started to loosen up and realize that I had freaked out for no real, logical reason (which, btw, is not always necessary – freaking out for no good reason is good sometimes!  Isn’t it!???).

I also got to visit with my fellow blogger and friend, Judy Smith from  Judy is just fabulous and a great conversationalist and I really enjoyed catching up with her, as well as a family I am very close to but was unable to talk much with earlier in the evening.  When all was said and done, I really enjoyed myself.  I am super-proud that I did not let my (gasp!) fear get in the way of a great, new experience that taught me that yes, I can have a great time by myself, and that it’s okay to try new things – even something that scared me.

I had – in some sort of peer-pressurized situation – committed late in the workday Friday to walking for the company I work for in the annual Dodge City Days Western Parade, an event that kicks off a week-long celebration filled with special events (because there are like none the rest of the year, so it’s kind of a big deal).  I think I have only been in the parade twice before – once for United Wireless and the other time when I was a volunteer at our local public library.  Coming off the high of the One Night Only Cabaret event, I was like, well, my weekend can only go down from here!  Again, without a lot of details (only semi-freak-out time needed after my “victory” the previous evening), I met a coworker friend at the start of the parade and we got a game plan going.  As a team, our “parade people” handed out 4,100 bottles of water bottles and almost 10,000 popsicles from two trailers, preceded by our massive Roadshow RV.

You can just barely see me on the back row, third from left in the green cap.  I'm fortunate to work with a fun group of people, and their family members also helped out.

You can just barely see me on the back row, third from left in the green cap. I’m fortunate to work with a fun group of people, and their family members also helped out. (Photo Courtesy United Wireless)

I actually had a great time working the parade and walked the entire 3-4 mile route! I was so sore the rest of the day and part of Sunday, too, but it went by so much quicker than the 2 hours it eventually took us to make our way literally across town.  It was fun to see coworkers in a different habitat outside their normal day-to-day activities, and it was a great opportunity to see that a majority of kids (and adults!) still knew how to say “please” and “thank you.”  Sometimes, the small victories are the big ones!

To wrap up (if you’re still reading, that is), I think I have a new Dodge City Days tradition of working in the parade, and I hope the Cabaret becomes a tradition, too.  Life is too short not to take advantage of things you know you’d enjoy, all because you have made the decision and choice to put negative expectations on those experiences.

So, I reach out to my WordPress friends…  Have you ever had an experience(s) you were anxious for, but it really turned out okay?  Please share your experiences!