My name is Raina and I am a nervous girl. These are my confessions.
My friend Lauren was getting married. We’d met while waiting tables at Meritage. We’d grown close while bonding over our feelings of being college graduates with two jobs and the perils of being single in your thirties. After years of dating duds, just when she was at the end of her rope, blammo, she bumps into her unicorn on 2nd Street New Year’s Day. A little more than a year later and I was going to their wedding.
It was going to be my third wedding in less than two months. I have no game, so I had no date for the first two. Going solo into big social functions is my personal hell. But they were small affairs, and I knew just enough people at those weddings that I felt comfortable enough to mingle and have a great time.
The day of Lauren’s wedding wasn’t a great day for me. The night before I had been unceremoniously dumped by a dude I’d been seeing for about a month. And I was bothered. Not because I was really into this guy; in fact, when I’d first met him months before at a party, I found him so unlikable that I think I may have told him that he had the kind of face I’d like to punch. But a few months and a couple Facebook exchanges later, going out with him seemed like a good idea. So to catch the brush off from a dude I was actively trying to settle for really chapped my ass.
The frustration of it all had my emotions on edge. So I gave myself a pep talk meant to prevent me from crying at the ceremony. For any reason. Because while I like pretend that I can keep my emotions in check, once the gates open, sometimes they don’t close. My fear was that a couple of happy tears for my friend would quickly escalate into some sobbing about my terrible life choices. And under no circumstance did I want to be that ridiculous girl crying through most of the reception. I gave myself strict instructions to keep it together.
The ceremony was in New Jersey, and the reception was in Philadelphia with a couple of hours in between the two. I quite liked this arrangement because it gave me the opportunity to craft two completely different looks: one for day and one for night. As my Aunt Marge has always told me, “You can feel like shit, but that doesn’t mean you need to look like shit.” (Fun Fact: when when you’re feeling down, playing with clothes, jewelry, and makeup really helps).
My evening look featured a dress from Anthropologie that I had recently fallen in love with, and while that store is a little rich for my blood, I loved this dress so much that I saved up to buy it specifically for these weddings.
When it came time to head to the reception, I tried to time my arrival with that of my friends. But because I can’t help but be insanely early when I’m nervous, of course I got to the reception long before they did. I checked my coat at the door, took a deep breath (read: sigh), and walked into the large ballroom.
My little friend Lauren comes from a big Italian family so this affair was just that: an affair. It was a beautiful event at a large, grand venue for close to 300 people. And I was going to know six of them, two being the bride and groom. The other four were two married couples. Talking to strangers is hard enough on a good day. And as we’ve already covered, this wasn’t my best day.
But here we go.
I wandered around the cocktail area awkwardly and aimlessly before heading up the winding staircase to the large table with the seating cards. I found the card with my lone name in the sea of Mr. & Mrs. So and So and walked around the corner into the main bar. I spotted the bride and groom and made my way over to say hello. After some hugs, kisses, and quick small talk, I let them get on with their greetings.
For lack of anything better to do, I went up to the bar to get a drink. I ordered a red wine from the very friendly bartender. Now I realize that the smart thing to do would have been to stay and chat up the bartender. But never being one to do the smart thing, I instead opted to walk around awkwardly some more.
I had taken maybe five steps when out of nowhere, this giant, Mack-truck of a man crashed right into me. Almost instantly, I felt the red wine splash up out of my glass and on down the front of me. And my pretty new dress.
I froze in place as that beast kept going, without so much as an “Excuse me.” Is this a joke? Yesterday I got dumped by I guy I didn’t even like and today I’m straight up invisible.
“Don’t cry,” I sternly instructed myself.
With a deep breath, I went back to my friend the bartender, ordered a club soda, and then high tailed it to the restroom. I was super excited to find that the restroom situation was a series of individual bathrooms down a long corridor. I locked myself in one of the rooms and got to work dabbing the club soda on the red wine stain.
And then I started to laugh at myself. This was the second wedding in a month where I found myself alone in a bathroom, cleaning red wine off my dress. So I took a picture of the absurdity of me hiding in a bathroom and posted it on Facebook because why not. I then proceeded to hang out in the bathroom Candy Crush-ing it until my friends sent a text to say they were on their way in.
Once my friends arrived, I started feel like less of an awkward freak and more like a girl ready to tear up the dance floor. And I achieved my goal of not being the ridiculous crying girl at the reception. As a matter fact, there was a crying girl at my table (but in her defense, she wasn’t being ridiculous—the band played Adele’s “Someone Like You” at a wedding).
In an attempt to make her feel better, I told her about how I straight up hid in the restroom because I was afraid that I might cry if I tried to talk to strangers. We ended up having a ball drinking champagne together and joking about our terrible taste in men.
I keep waiting for the day or night that I walk into a room full of people I don’t know and don’t feel like I want to run away or hide. Or for the day when I’m just really good at mingling and working a room full of strangers. But I still have some work to do (just ask the guy I insulted at last year’s Christmas Party).
It’s all a work in progress, I guess. And I have to just keep putting myself out there.
Ugh. Until next time…