Socializing with strangers can be a scary thing for most of us. The stakes get raised even higher if it has anything to do with your profession. Every time I take one of those introvert/extrovert tests I fall right in the middle. I’m balanced. That is why last night’s PhilaMade event was so interesting to me. I had to step away from my balanced role and try and play the role of extrovert.
It all stared with an email from the PhilaMade group inviting me to go to an event at North Bowl in Philly. I was kind of on-the-fence about going, considering it is a social event and I probably wouldn’t know anyone there. PhilaMade has a whole thing about being invited by other members to events you can see here. I vaguely know two people in the Community and I thought there was a chance either one of them would be there, but it didn’t seem likely. Even if the invite was a mistake I decided to go anyway and sent in my RSVP.
The First 45 Minutes
The event started at 6 p.m. and for about the first hour I sat at the bar next to a guy who didn’t seem like he was even remotely interested in talking to me. I think he actually turned his back towards me. It was kind of awkward. It was also weird enough to be comedy, making me want to see how it would play out. That conversation never happened.
I drank some beer and waited for people to fill the place up while texting stupid videos to friends.
The Crowd Arrives
An hour into the event the bar filled in and I was able to start mixing it up a little. First I talked to a young developer who has his own freelance business called Proud Pixel. It was a nice conversation for me because it brought back memories of what it was like when I started out doing full-time freelance design work.
Tracking Down a Pin
I realized part way through the event that I wanted to get one of the member pins that this group uses to track membership. So, I started the process of tracking one down.
Since I’m pretty sure I arrived through the incorrect channels, I figured I would just ask around and if someone told me
“no, you don’t get one” it would just end there. Besides, it’s just a pin. My heart wouldn’t break if it didn’t work out. This quest for a pin was a nice way for me to talk to even more people at the event. It reminded me of an adult scavenger hunt.
By the time I made my way to the pins I had skipped straight to black-pin-status. I’m not sure if that is significant in any way, but I honestly thought it was cool to get one at that point. Could that be some unresolved stuff from high school?
From my barstool I eventually noticed Allison Wagner in the crowd. She was on an episode of Shop Talk Show(one of my favorite podcasts) awhile back and is a Girl Develop It teacher. I was psyched to see someone that I’m a fan of, so I walked over to introduce myself. It was surprising how nice she was to me considering I think I also interrupted her conversation. After a little preprocessor talk I was done nerding-out and ready to catch a train home.
Put a Bow on It
Obviously this is not the most compelling story in the world. I didn’t tame a Lion or anything. But there were many times during the night where I forced myself to do the thing that I knew would be more interesting, even if it was less comfortable at first. I’d like to keep this trend going.
Realizing that there isn’t much to lose by trying something new is my point. The likelihood that I said things that annoyed people is very high. At the end of the day I guess a stranger that is slightly annoyed by you is worth everything else you get in return.
Photos from the event are on the PhilaMade flikr feed. See you PhilaMade folks at the next event.