It was my first week at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's summer program and my parents had just dropped me off after our long drive from New Jersey. I was 16, extremely shy, and it was my second time living away from home for the summer.
I started the whole program a week later than everyone else, and the feeling of being an outcast was palpable.
I quickly said good-bye and get-out-of-here to my parents to avoid any potential embarrassment. Hallways of bunheads chit-chatted their way to their dorm rooms, passing me by like I was invisible. I was scared of not knowing what to expect, and worried about whether or not I would fit in.
As I unpacked my stuff in my lonely second-floor dorm room (including the boxes of Teddy Grahams I smuggled in), I noticed the door had a sign with my name on it. Jessica Grippo. I took out a pen and wrote in big letters beneath it:
a.k.a. “THE NEW GIRL”
Minutes later a girl stopped in front of it and laughed. She peeked her head in, introduced herself and invited me to dinner with her group of friends.
“I have a feeling you’re...one of us.”
That night at the dinner table was a sigh of relief -
I felt connected to the four other faces who surrounded me. I laughed. I heard stories and told some of my own. I realized I wasn’t the only one who thought those bunheads were a little too stiff for their own good. I made friends and would spend the next 5 weeks getting closer and closer to them.
I’m not best friends with that Pittsburgh crew today, but the friendship we created was so meaningful to me. It helped me find home and find myself in a foreign place.
I bring this up today because I want to ask you -
Where in your life are you feeling like an outcast?
Very often when we’re not in our full expression, not doing the things we truly want to be doing, we can feel isolated, like no one really understands us. It can breed more isolation, resentment, depression, and stuckness.
If I hadn’t expressed myself with “THE NEW GIRL” sign on my dorm room back then, I might not have connected to that awesome group of people who became my community. In fact, there were plenty of other ballet classes and programs I was part of that I spent totally alone, too scared to reach out to anyone.
In adult life, we don’t often have the opportunity to be thrown into new groups of people and friends -- unless we seek them out.
Here are a few suggestions for creating more community and connection in your life:
Check out Meetup.com and join a group or two that interests you. Don’t see anything that you like? You could also start a Meetup of your own!
Seek out a class that you could attend weekly, consistently. A dance class, art class, martial arts, etc - what have you been wanting to explore? Also see below for something I’m offering this year.
Start a group of your own. Host an event or just invite people to a group event. When I first moved to Brooklyn, I invited 3 friends to join me on a beach trip. They didn’t know each other at the time, but to this day the 4 of us are still great friends and even have a nickname for our group.
Strike up conversation in an elevator or on line at the grocery store. Even brief moments of connection feel fantastic.
Any suggestions to share? Still feeling stuck?
Share in the comments below!
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Have you been feeling a bit alien in your current surroundings?
Do you desire to express yourself as the artist you truly are?
I invite you to speak up!
We’re down to 2 spots left in the Thriving Artist’s Program.
[/feature_box] After finishing up a group session with my current clients in the program earlier this week, I was filled with that same feeling I had when I was 16: I found home. I found myself again. And judging by the shares from each woman there, I could tell they felt the same.
They are each working through their own path, live in different places - from New York and North Carolina, all the way to San Francisco and Los Angeles - but yet have so much in common with one another:
making their way out of draining desk jobs and into their passions
reviving dance, painting, and singing back into their lives
creating community and positively impacting the people around them
It’s not too late to join this group of fantastic humans. In fact, it’s the perfect time to join.
Apply here and I’ll get back to you within the next few days to let you know if it sounds like the right fit, and talk about next steps.
If you’ve read this far, I already have a feeling you’re... one of us.
inviting you to be yourself,