Dale Carnegie says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

He’s right!

I was just talking to my friend Kelsie the other day, and she was telling me that she came to a Hearts at Home conference in 2014, and heard me speak about the difference between being a “there you are” person and a “here I am” person. When she moved to a new state, and started looking for community, she told me it made a huge difference. That inspired me to write about it today!

If you’ve read any of my books, you may have heard these terms. But let’s start here: What is the difference between a “there you are” person and a “here I am” person?

“Here I am” people walk into a room and think, Here I am. Come talk to me. Come make me feel comfortable. Come ask me about me.

“There you are” people walk into a room and think, There you are! You look interesting! I think I’d like to get to know you better!

Do you see the difference?

Especially in a time where many of us have been disconnected from others, having a clear approach for redeveloping community is so important. Community and friendship are so important. In fact, we’re not meant to exist without those things. The Bible tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a).

But for many of us (especially us introverts!), meeting new people can be overwhelming.

How do we make it less overwhelming? We approach opportunities to meet people with a “there you are” mindset rather than a “here I am” mindset.

If you’re a “here I am” person, I can promise that you will think that moms group, church event, or playgroup was the most unfriendly group you’ve ever been to. Certainly there are friendlier groups than others, but how you approach walking into a new situation will truly make the biggest difference in how you’re able to connect with others.

You might say something afterwards like, “That was so frustrating. Nobody talked to me!”

When we flip that around and place the responsibility on ourselves to try and make connections, we become “there you are” people.

So let’s get practical. We’ll assume you walk into a room with a “there you are” mindset. You’ve scoped the room and have identified someone you’d like to talk to. What do you do!? Well, you can do one of three things:

1) Pull out your phone and pretend to be texting someone.
2) Introduce yourself.
3) Start a conversation.

Option 1 will not move you forward in friendships so we’re taking that option off the table (although it’s one many of us use entirely too often!). However, both option #2 and #3 are winning strategies to plant some friendship seeds. In a group setting (moms group, PTA meeting, Bible study, etc.), the introduction most often comes first, but in a social setting (park, playground, library event, etc.), most likely conversation will begin the interaction. This is your chance to make someone else feel fascinating! The courage you need to muster comes not from being certain you’ll be seen as charming and interesting but rather in making the effort to make her feel charming and interesting. That’s a different kind of risk that’s just a little easier to take.

Meeting new people can feel hard and scary. If you feel that way, I want you to know that you’re not alone! But I want to encourage you to carry this perspective the next time you have an opportunity to meet new people. Walk into it saying, “Today, I’m not going to be a ‘here I am’ person. I’m going to be a ‘there you are’ person. I can do this.”

Reach out. Say hello. Be that person! You’ve got this!

Are you a mom looking to build your tribe? I want to encourage you to grab a copy of Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone. This is a book I wrote with my daughter Anne all about what it looks like to develop strong friendships!

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