The day before, I had so much optimism. Hope. I was going to go, find a tribe, and meet new people. Make new friends. I could close my eyes and envision that, by lunch, I would have found a few people that I could eat and talk and connect with.

Then I arrived.

The room was full of people. New people. Unknown people. A sea of faces that all meshed together into an image that made my heart pound. Every face was friendly and terrifying. I could imagine myself going over, saying hello and asking to sit, but I could not make my feet move.

Tears burned behind my eyes at the thought.

I was frozen.

I was burning.

I could never.

My breathing sped up, shallow and quick. In, out, in, out, inoutinoutinout. How do people do this? How do they meet new people? All of my friends came from places and groups – built in friends. I feel like some extrovert always adopted me, and I can’t rely on that.

Move. Just say hi. What’s the worst that could happen? I told myself over and over that I just had to take the step.

I was frozen.

The day slid by, and I slid out at the end. Alone. Unknown.

My heart a tattered shambles.