I'm a two-year-old. Or maybe I'm three. Anyway, Mama is grasping my hand so I won't get lost in the crowd of busy shoppers. I'm terribly nervous. Too many strangers.
A woman remarks how cute I am with my short ponytail and chubby face and smiles at me. I frown back. I don't want anyone talking to me.
I'm a shy toddler and I despise strangers. But I have a wonderful trick. It's called a frown. I perform this trick and everyone leaves me alone. It doesn't always work, but most of the time it does. And that is the power of a frown.
But why can't I be friendly? Why is it so hard for me?
OK, now I'm a seven-year-old. My whole family is at a banquet. It's loud and I'm quiet. It seems like everyone has their own friends and I don't. Oh, two girls walk past me. They're chatting and laughing. Maybe they'll let me join in.
I follow from a safe distance. I pass some adults and older kids and continue my walking. Oops, I got too close. One of the girls turns around and looks at me for a moment. I'm so embarrassed! Should I move on and act like I wasn't doing anything? The girl says, "Do you want to play with us?" I slowly nod my head. I don't smile, but I don't frown either.
Hey, I made a new friend.
Years pass. I'm still shy. I can still count the number of friends I've made on one hand. And if I could go back and tell my two-year-old self one thing, I'd say, "Don't be shy. Go out on a limb and make some friends."
And over a decade later, I'm following my own advice.
(Note: This post is for the first Compassion Blog Month Assignment. Please join in the fight against poverty.)