I’m at the wedding, plopped in an adirondack chair high in the yard, enjoying a cold beer while I watch folks in fancy dress mingle on the dock. The chatter of the other guests is all around me, a gentle fuzz of voices, when a woman stops in front of my seat.
“Who are you and why are you sitting all by yourself!?”
I blink. And laugh. “I’m the DJ’s girlfriend. I don’t know anyone.”
“Well, this is my daughter, Carli, and this is Grandma. Now you know someone.”
A blue-eyed old woman clutching red wine and smoking copiously plops down beside me. Carli, blond and light, proceeds to talk about Beverly Hills 90210 (“If my boyfriend is ever a drug dealer, I should dump him, right?”), her friends’ moms and dads (“They’re living together but she pays all his bills, that’s not right, is it?”), and her 10th birthday wishes (“Barbies, and a car for them. I would take pink or purple or white but not green”). We try the crab lollipops together. She pretends to like them. We laugh about all sorts of things. Then cocktail hour ends and whoosh! We’re relegated to separate tables.
Later, as dinner drags on, I feel a tug on my hand.
“Kristen I was thinking about dancing and I finished eating and…
Do you want to, like, hang out?”
That question, heartbreaking and tenuous all at once. So deeply vulnerable and childish (because of course I’ll say yes) but also, so adult. Asking for what you want.
It’s only by asking that I’ll say, “Yes, of course I would like to hang out with you, darling girl.”
We danced and danced and danced.
If you’re here, reading this, the work you do feels like an expression of your soul — or you’re trying to find the work that feels that way.
That work is inherently vulnerable. It’s exhausting and debilitating when people don’t like it or aren’t interested.
It’s scary to ask people to pay attention. It means tugging on the hands of people you like and asking, “Do you want to, like, hang out?”
Some will say no, or say they’re too busy, or beg off hanging out until later.
But others. They will dance with you until the wee hours of the morning. They will turn you around and around in the fading light, gleeful and lit up like so many fireworks. They will make all the asking worth it, and they’ll reward all that rejection with a heart that’s full to bursting.
Ask your clients to talk to you.
Ask them to come to your workshop or lecture or party or event or or seminar or phone meeting or class or photo shoot.
Ask them to dance with you, and I promise, the ones you’ll end up loving will answer with a resounding, “Yes. What took you so long to ask?”
That’s only the beginning of today’s podcast, in which we talk all about finding your voice and inviting them onto your metaphorical dance floor. (Also, in the kayak pictured? Beer. BEER BOAT AT A WEDDING. Genius, isn’t it?)