How to be “The New Girl”

 

I’ve packed and repacked my same black suitcase about five times. Usually, packing is a snap for me (I go on about fifty trips a year, so if I don’t want  to dedicate a large portion of my free time to packing. a girl learns to keep it simple.)

I would like to take an outfit for each day, and a backup after I see what everyone else is wearing, just to make sure I fit in.

I have (so far) resisted an “emergency” trip to Macy’s hoping to find the right outfit to make sure I fit in.

But as you may suspect, this goes a little deeper than wardrobe issues.

Tomorrow I board a plane to go to “The Hip Conference”. Really cool, deep, spiritual girls are getting together to teach each other – and learn from each other – how to talk about Jesus better.  And normally, I would be really excited. Except I’m “The New Girl”.

I’ve never been to this conference, and I’ve let my brain run amok.

In my mind:

  • These women all know each other and are best friends waiting for their once a year reunion
  • It will be like a scene from “Mean Girls” and no one will sit with me at lunch
  • They will mock me behind my back for my pathetic attempts to fit in

Obviously, I’ve watched too many commercials for Gossip Girl.

And this doesn’t just happen for conferences. No – I feel it all the time.

  • At a new Bible Study
  • Visiting a new church
  • Going to a new hair dresser
  • When my kids went to a new school
  • Hanging out with my husband’s co-workers

People assume since I’m an extrovert that I LOVE diving into situations like this. No. Not at all. All the weirdness and fear pop up and I feel like the kid sister my older sister was forced to take to the movies with all of her cool friends.

I don’t write this to have you encourage me (I know, I know, they will love me once they get to know me. but thanks!) but to say if a super-extrovert like me feels this, I’m guessing that about 90% of you have some of the same feelings. So I wanted to share my plan of attack. I mean my godly plan for managing my anxiety.

Step 1 - Pray for the Event: When I take my eyes off myself and think about what the event is trying to accomplish – and then praying to that end – it gives me the perspective I need. I’m just one person, hoping to be useful, and to follow what God is telling me to do. I’m now praying for the event organizers (cause you know they might just be losing their minds right about now…) praying for the safety of those who are traveling, and praying I can get what God wants me to get out of the experience.

Step 2 - Realize I’m Not the Only New Girl: There are going to be loads of people there who are newbies. We will be the ones who look like racoons staring at an oncoming Mack Truck. I will find these people and make them my friends.

Step 3 – “My Name Is… Here to Serve” No, I’m not officially on the committee, but every single one of these conferences, God has put someone in my path that needed to be loved, encouraged, or just needed some well-timed milk chocolate. If I focus on the needs of others, God always gets around to what I need out of the conference. I’ve never left feeling “I wish I hadn’t helped that person so much. I missed ______” Nope, God’s told me to “feed His sheep”. That’s my job. He takes care of the schedule nitty-gritty.

Step 4 – Bring Things to Give Away No, not advertising for my new book. Things people want. Like that well-timed chocolate.

So tell me your coping mechanism for being the new girl. Spiritual. Practical. I want to hear it – and I want you to share it with all the other new girls.

(BTW – the word on the street is all these ladies are lovely and I’m going to have a great time. I’ll report back…)

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Comments

  1. Like you, I definitely don’t enjoy being the “new girl” at/in anything! I mean, there’s just something about being the fresh face that runs me ragged with anxiety (you know, the blow-in-the-bag-call-a-medic kind of panic). It’s only natural for girls like us to want to make a good impression, but I tend to get too consumed with worry instead: “What if I have something stuck in my teeth? What if my nose has something gross dangling from it? What if I get gas in this small room of people and they all know it was me who did it?”

    Please tell me someone relates to the last one?

    No, in all seriousness, the practical advice I can offer is to carry a bottle of water at all times (coughing attacks tend to get eye rolls), carry a compact mirror (for after lunch and post-sneeze check-up’s), and don’t eat anything that may cause your tummy to rumble or land you in the bathroom all day.

    Oh, and “Just be yourself.” :) I hear the ladies at the Allume Conference are simply awesome.

  2. Kathi,

    Thank you so much for this post. With you being such a well seasoned public speaker & a published author of several books, no one would ever think you had any anxiety in these situations. I KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE, that you will be just the person you wish to be in your “plan of attack”. Not because you planned it, but because that is EXACTLY THE PERSON GOD MADE YOU TO BE.
    I also know how scary it is to feel like the new girl & to still have the desire to make an impact for God. I will never forget…& will be forever grateful for the grace and encouragement that you gave to me a few years ago, when I was just that girl.
    I only wish that I could be at Allume, also, so I could at least be a familiar face from the west. However, I know that God has someone special already picked out to be your supportive buddy, just as He has chosen you to be some other “newbie’s” buddy!
    My prayer is that you are blessed, refreshed and energized with a confidence that only God can provide! And, of course, for safe easy travels.
    Just let go, be yourself & have fun!!!
    Everyone who knows you, already knows how amazing you are!! And if they don’t, I know they will appreciate the chocolate!! ;)

    Hugs from the past!!!
    Lauren

    P.S I just changed hosting servers so my website is down. (just in case you look soon)
    But I’m almost ready to jump into the public…almost..;)
    Will let you know.

  3. Kathi, even though I, too, am extroverted, I would be nervous in a crowd of new faces. I love the steps you’ve posted here though – when we focus on the Lord instead of ourselves, we always come up to the bar. It’s amazing how He allows that to happen, isn’t it?
    Hope this is a blessed time for you, my friend. Looking forward to hearing about it!
    Hugs!

  4. Shawna niles says:

    So I’m not a public speaker but a military wife and as you know every 2 years I’m the new girl. I don’t really know how to get over those fears. Even though we have moved 9 times it doesn’t get any easier. I do try to engage in conversation with others and share myself as well. But the most interesting thing I have found is that others I wouldn’t think would they like me we get along very well and tend to be great friends. I also think sharing your fear would be good showing you are vulnerable.

    As for the outfit and jewelry I try to stick to my favorite and what I’m the most comfortable in. Just be yourself and I agree bring gifts. I just bought some of those special tissues and they even had scripture on them from hobby lobby. They were at the checkout. When you are crying and someone heads you the cutest hankie you can’t help but smile. You will do fine but have fun and praise god. Shawna

  5. Hello there, “New Girl” :)

    At first I thought your topic would have something to do with having a new, fresh (spunky? :) ) attitude. The picture of the sad babykid seemed incongruent, ha.

    Very often, even though I am a super- extrovert too, I deal with the new girl thing. Talk about incongruent! I wish I never felt that way! But every time there’s what I call, ” a women thing” to attend I feel so freaked out, much as you describe! But, praise God, it’s never as bad as I think it’s going to be. In fact, it is usually just lovely.

    I have found a good place to start, prior to attending “the women thing”, is humbling myself before the Lord, practicing listening prayer so that He can deal with issues/attitudes that are mine. I think women are scary! Mostly due to my own hang ups but past hurts contribute in a big way too. I believe our heavenly Father, in His lovingkindness that is great toward us(!), wants for me (us women) to be able to be confident in who He made us to be as individuals loved and called by Him to make an impact for the Kingdom! Sometimes we need to grow and mature (be healed and delivered) but sometimes we to grow up! None of that meanie girls on the playground stuff! But neither ought we be the high maintence chick that snivels in the corner waiting, requiring (demanding?) that others coddle us!

    Your words are timely. Just last evening I attended “a woman thing
    “. :) I repented of my sinful self-centered focus, asked the Lord Jesus for courage to be myself and decided to look for Him in my Sisters. Wow! It *was* just lovely!

    I have often thought I would like it if people wouldn’t assume that extroverts don’t ever feel scaredy. But because of your article I will now not assume I am the only one!

    God bless you, “New Girl”! Jesus works in and through you! It’s gonna be super!
    Hugs-hugs, Gigi

  6. Kathy,
    To meet you one would never think you had a doubt in the world. Thanks for your transperancy and the great tips to get our minds off of our selves! I’ve moved 22 times and wrote a book, Changing Zip Codes because it ain’t easy being the new girl. Great blog.

  7. Life is improv.

    PRAYING about going to an event is my first key. Clearly, if God has directed my path, He will take care of anything that could come up.

    I think best on my feet so I generally don’t have a problem. Bringing a couple of bags of Dove promises always helps too. :)

  8. Kathy,
    You are so gifted, even in your human-ness of apprehension!
    I agree with you and several others that preparatory prayer is a huge key. I would even spend the whole day prior to the event, devoted to it.
    After that my best advise is to smile! We women tend to let our worries show in our faces without realizing it. Even when we are concentrating on something else, it can look like we are mad or not enjoying something, when it isn’t true. I know you love to laugh, and that is contagious.
    And lastly, listen! Ask questions about others, and share yourself as appropriate.
    People love it when you listen and care about them.
    You know how to make others feel welcome, and that in turn will make you feel welcome.
    Have a wonderful time, full of Gods abundant blessings!

  9. My mom is really friendly and all through my growing up, she would tell me, “Go and find the person who is by themself. Introduce yourself and start talking to her.” She always showed me to look for the ones who may not be noticed. In doing so, I have avoided being alone myself. Yep, that was good advice and it’s helped me cope with being new in a group.

    You are going to be fabulous at the conference! :)

  10. Arlene, your mother is a wise woman with a compassionate and self-less heart. She is right, we tend to think first about ourselves instead of others.
    I hate being in a room where I know no one and trying to be brave. It would be the ideal and God’s delight if we practiced your mom’s method of hospitality, no one would have the anxiety and fear I have read in all of these comments.
    Kathi, I love Arlene’s comment the best. It is exactly what Jesus does.
    I hope the next event you go to, that Jesus will be seen in the woman who comes to you knowing you are new.
    Have a truly blessed time, praying for you friend.

  11. Okay, wait… you had chocolate? I want a do-over! LOL I’m the girl who ran into the elevator to get to know you, and let me tell you–your plan of attack worked. We loved everything about you!

    I’m sitting on my bed (I know, lazy) about to blog with your book by my side. You were a highlight of my week. Thank you!

  12. Kathi,
    Lots of encouragement here for you. I just want you to know how thankful I am that you have that attitude of “here to serve” or you would not have impacted my life so deeply. Every time I allow myself to go back into my hurting place I remember you wrapping me up in love and understanding at a writing conference. Spending a huge amount of time with someone who you might never have seen again. You have impacted my life in so many ways, I am grateful for you, and excited for the lives you will change at your upcoming event.

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