The Stranger At The Party

My Pandora radio has to have Hall and Oates in it. (Courtesy of

“We like to be the strangers at the party, two rebels in a shell.”

Hall and Oates

We’ve all been there before.  The feeling of being the stranger at a party you were invited to, and yet don’t feel like you belong.  The feeling that you’re in the middle…of nowhere, when it comes to being accepted or welcomed in the social world.

There is a quote that Mary Bontrager at the Greater Des Moines Partnership always uses when it comes to networking;  “it’s not who you know, but who knows you.”

Boy is that true, especially for introverts.

Not too long ago, I attended a charity gala to support an acquaintance of mine and what her organization does.  I was getting over a flu bug which plugged up my ears to the point where I had to ask them repeat what they said louder.

Being the quiet observer that I am, I usually pick up on characterisitcs and behavior of people.  That’s what listeners and introverts do.  We pick our spots.

What I found may not be of interest to you, but I find it to be intriguing to me.

What I’ve noticed is a good number of social circles in Des Moines need to work on being more welcoming to people who are feeling out of place, and who could benefit from a smile, a handshake, and a some small talk at cocktail parties, galas, and other events.

I’m not going to lie.  I felt invisible at the gala.  It’s a deflating feeling when CEOs brush past you to say hello to your friend and ignore you, movers and shakers hanging out with their own kind, up-and-comers chatting it up, and you’re the one person that is trying to make inroads and connections, and coming up empty.

"Alone in a Crowd" by Hank Weber (Aurora Gallery of Vancouver, Washington)

I felt like a fish out of water…a cup of water.

Most introverts are not going to bum-rush a group and introduce themselves in order to get attention.  Nor are we going to do outrageous things to get eyeballs.  But it would be nice if the socialites, the VIPs, and the social circles of Des Moines do a better job of making outsiders feel comfortable, rather than pulling the “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” on them.

People love to be the life of the party, but many of them would prefer to feel welcomed and not be invisible.

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