Your responsibility to party – How to be a good guest
Nugget- The blind date – How to be gracious
“To Be a Good Guest”
When I was little, my immediate family quite honestly, was pretty stressed all the time and angry and kind of hateful. I was always surprised by how the relatives put up with. I actually had to cut them off. It's not something I did lightly. It took many, many therapists to get me out of that situation. As a whole though, my family and its dynamics was very much the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. It was exactly like that but Persian. The relatives would get together every week; parties all the time, get-togethers all the time; always in each other's business and very loud and the dinners are not just like quiet dinners with seven people.
As a child, every time I had to go to one of these parties, (I mean, other people would call them parties for us, it was just a Friday night), the amount of stuff that would happen in our home that I grew up in was just not happy. There was screaming, yelling, criticism, body shaming, all kinds of shaming, you name it. It was heavy. And this was right before going to see the relatives. As a kid, you can't just switch that off and go to a party and be the life of the party as a guest in someone’s home (at least, I couldn’t). Every time I was at a party, I would be in a corner sulking. At parties, I just wanted to be alone. I didn't want to be around anyone. My feelings were hurt and no one else really understood that. My relatives would try to force me to dance and grab my arms, drag me to get up out of the chair, to get me away from the corner. And it just hurt my feelings even more. I didn't understand the concept of a party or being a guest, even being a host. To this day, when I have to go to a party I have inner turmoil because I feel less than, ugly, body morph issues galore stemming from those times as a child.
It took years, many, many years to realize the responsibility I have as a guest and how important that is. It took being away from all that drama, moving away and hosting my own parties, attending all kinds of parties, to realize the art of being a good guest.
What is it to be a good guest? As much as I have empathy for my childhood self, I realized the act of sitting in a corner, sulking and not being a participant is giving the haters all the power, it’s such a downer for the whole place and a waste of time. We are here to live and to enjoy life. And just like that, I realized all of a sudden, like a flip of a coin, that I was the life of the party.
Here’s what I do: I interview people at parties like they’re major celebrities. I asked them questions about their lives. I marvel at what they are wearing, about how great they are, how great they look, and how interesting they are. I will give people the red carpet treatment. I enjoy the food and drink and express gratitude for the amazing feast. I dance like a fool and laugh. I help carry the party. And here’s the thing, the party is in daily life.
These are the things I am trying to teach my daughters. But really they were born with these instincts, until we came across one mean person after another and now I have to make sure they are brave and strong again; so they can go out boldly, enjoy and embrace life again, before the time the haters tried to dampen their flame. We all need to embrace life again!
My little girl (at two years old) with gusto, would step into every room and victoriously make an announcement that we were there (that we had arrived). We would go to swim lessons. We would push the doors of the public indoor swimming pool open together and with arms stretched out like she was embracing the entire place and all the swimmers, with voice echoing loudly she would exclaim that we’re swimming today! The only people that seemed to get that genius were the “old” people (in the water aerobics class) who laughed and nodded in agreement, acknowledging the privilege of life and of the activity at hand.
There's a reason why you were invited to the party (at a party or life in general). Figure that out. Go out unscripted. Don’t try to control the conversation. Just go with the flow. Get interested. Become unpredictable and interesting. Be open to having parties of your own and invite someone dangerous(but not psycho) over for tea! Improvise! Interact! Dress up! Wear something to make yourself chuckle.
I think, as a culture, we forgot how to have a good time. I have found that when people get together, they need to be inebriated to push back feelings. It shouldn’t have to be that way. I just think that that we’re not used to giving parties. We're not used to entertaining and when and if we do, all our issues are there. Think of it as kind working out (exercising). When we work out a lot and use our muscles, all the kinks go away, the pain goes away and we get used to it. We get into the rhythm. It all becomes fluid, but if we're not used to entertaining and entertain only for special occasions, (like birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), when people get together in that situation, all the resentments are there. But if we entertain more often, those issues don’t matter as much (they’re old news). The kinks get buffered out, they get get oiled and everything becomes fluid. We become fluid. We become a part of that dance of socialization.
If we're not used to entertaining, we don't know how to be a good guests. We don't know how to be a good host. We can have fun disagreeing with people; have our views stretched by totally different ideas other than our own. We can afford to be completely, unapologetically authentic. We should showcase who we are as well as applaud others for who they are. Let’s be ok with confrontation and treat it as no big thing.
To be able to converse with someone and to have a relationship with someone, you have to know what language they use (what words they use), you have to be aware of their wordage and how they speak, so when you have a conversation with them, you know what words trigger or how they communicate. It's kind of the same when we're going to the house. We need to know how they believe good hosting is and what kind of a guest we need to be in their home. It's a fine line; a fine line that we have to figure out as we go.
Soon this pandemic and social physical isolation will be behind us. Now is the time to start preparing and to start thinking about how we go over to someone's sanctuary, reading social people’s cues. There's going to be a lot of social awkwardness for sure. And the social awkwardness was there, but no one was really admitting to it. I think. Just bear all of that in mind as the host and as the guest.
Think about what kind of get-togethers you want to have because folks, friends, this time of loneliness and isolation will be over. We need to get through it, and before you know it, we'll be hanging out in person again.
Think about being a good guest and what kind of conversation starters you're going to have, or like how you're going to notice things you've never noticed before and seeing some other person in the room and how you'd approach them.
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