A piano fell on my head today.

I was sitting in church looking around ( from the depths of the back rows where I always creep in and hide) when suddenly it hit me.

I’ve been coming to this particular congregation for a year now. A whole year. And I don’t even know who half of these people are. In fact, I dont even know who a QUARTER of these people are. There’s that nice elderly gentleman who always smiles and shakes my hand. Don’t know his name. There’s that cheery, beautiful young woman who never ever forgets to say hello to me and all my assorted rabble. Don’t know her name either. There’s that very kind lady who teaches my very naughty child and still hasn’t tried to run me over in the parking lot as punishment for raising aforementioned naughty child. Don’t know her name. There’s the Youth Leader who organizes super fun activities for my teenagers every week and ensures they get a ride home. Couldnt tell ya a single personal thing about her. Everywhere I turn there are people who have gone out of their way to be nice to me and my (far from) fabulous children – and yet, I have no clue what their names are. I wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a police lineup. Or nominate them as “people I would most like to survive the zombie apocalypse with”. Or ask for their help if I was locked out of heaven in the last days. Because I know zippity-doo zilch about them.

It was like a piano had fallen on my head. This is just not good enough.  I know I’m a hermit. I know I’m rather anti-social. I know that I have loser interpersonal skills. But after 52 weeks worth of Sundays with very welcoming, friendly, supportive and fun people – I should be better at this. But I’m not. Because I keep thinking that “I’m going home soon. I’m not going to be here for very long. This is not my REAL church/neighborhood/community. I don’t REALLY belong here. My REAL church/neighborhood/community is at home in Samoa.” So therefore I don’t REALLY need to make an effort. Because why bother?

I realize that I have to accept the facts. Right here, right now, I live in Auckland, NZ. And even though Im constantly plotting and conniving for ways to move home to Samoa next week, I have to deal with the reality of my NOW.  I need to stop moping and using homesickness as an excuse for (rude) hermit-ness.

You watch me. Next Sunday, I’m going to be a changed woman. The sign I usually wear that says, “GET AWAY FROM ME” will be left at home. I’m going to radiate cheerful friendliness, hug everyone and give them air-kisses. I shall smile more than a toothpaste ad. Engrave people’s names and faces in stone. Or at least write names down unobtrusively in the back of my scriptures. I will invite strangers to my house for dinner so that we can make friends. And have my new life’s mantra tattooed on my forehead – “Hi, I’m Lani and I know how to be nice. I promise.”

When I started writing this blog post about the New and Improved Me, I was feeling very enthusiastic. But now that I’ve reached the end of it, I just feel tired. The very thought of being cheerfully friendly is exhausting.

People like me should never move countries. Neighborhoods. Or church congregations. We should just stay in our caves, write books and invent people to be friends with.

Sleepless in Samoa hit a record 30,000 visits this month. Thanks for keeping me company! If you’re looking for a Fantasy Romance read about strong, fierce and proud Pacific women – check out the free sample of TELESA:The Covenant Keeper available on Amazon.

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16 comments

  1. I couldn't not comment after this blog :)Ack! I HATED trying to make new friends whenever we moved somewhere new. When we moved to Nelson from Auckland, it was a bit of a culture shock too. The town was smaller, and the people almost suspicious of those who approached them in friendship. It took two years before I decided that Nelson WAS my home now and I'd better accept that – so you're doing really well to recognise that already. Go you! 🙂 Now I love it and wouldn't be anywhere else in the world. What changed? My mindset – just like you. I joined an indoor netball team, writer's groups and extended the hand of friendship gently. They're less suspicious of me now ;)It's hard to put yourself out there, but I've no doubt with your beautiful smile and presence, once done, people will flock to you. Have fun and I can't wait to hear about those dinner parties!

  2. Thanks Laverne. Such a relief to hear Im not the only one who doesnt adapt as quickly as …one should?! I agree, a lot has to do with mindset, my attitude. The funny thing was that we were so worried how our children, esp our teenagers would adjust to a new life in NZ, but they embraced everything about it and its ME who's left behind struggling and fighting the adjustment. Comfort zones are so very comfortable, arent they?! I've just been offered a possible writing opp which involves spending ten weeks away from the family in the USA and of course, my instant response was – hell no. Way too scary for me. I hope I can follow through with my good intentions about having a new and improved attitude about change.

  3. Haha! I understand this post so much. I havent moved anywhere and WOULD NOT go to a college too far from home, so I stayed an hour away. Still in Maryland, but in Baltimore instead of Prince Georges county. The first year, I went home every weekend. It was like a different world so far away. The second year, every other weekend was spent at home. The third year, I got a boyfriend from Baltimore (the current boyfriend) and everything changed. He took me to this place, and that place, and to see his parents, and to his cousins, and to this meeting, oh and meet this person, and this person, and stop by to see this person every so often and come to my job and I'll get my boss to give you a scholarship but you have to come talk to her, and then he finally sat me down one day and said, "Stop being a pushover/wallflower/scardeycat and talk to people. They wont bite and if they do, me and my friends and family and my mom who's a nurse will not only help disinfect the wound and bandage you up but also go make sure it never happens again." Needless to say, 3 years later and no longer in college, I spend 75% of my time in baltimore and 25% at home. All my friends are there as well as the boyfriend, and I hate being at home. I'll probably move close to Baltimore (I still work near home so I cant make the commute too bad). It's funny now because the other day I went to the store by my house and said something to the cashier. She responded and then asked if I was from Baltimore because I have a bit of an accent. It seem's a bit of Baltimore rubbed off on me and forever changed me into a mutt.

  4. I forgot to add the point to the above essay I sent you. HA! Do what my boyfriend said and stop being a pushover/scardeycat/wallflower. They wont bite, and if they do, you have all your family with you and those new friends you made to help fix it. You never know how many new and fun experiences you will gain.

  5. And here I was thinking of moving to OZ. Oh wells, knowing how much we have in common, I'd better think again about that dream. =( It's just if I don't move countries, I won't have the excuse of a new country to use to ignore people. I'm tired of my neighbors of almost three years now looking at me like, "There goes the lady with all them kids that never comes out". Oh wells, I'm usually thinking, "There goes what's his/her face, that lives somewhere around here, that has kids, or not, that…oh who cares. Just don't talk to me!" LOL

  6. I know what you're talking about because I've done the same..lol. so let me just say…baby steps Lani, baby steps. Don't go all out or you'll scare them all..lol. start with smile and hi. next sunday you can shake hands. next you can hug. and the next you can invited them for dinner (but i usually don't do that because I'm a lousy cook.) lol. ia ga laia..listen to Oprah..bhahahaha..Good luck!

  7. Great post Lani. Most writers I meet, even the seemingly outgoing ones are really introverts. If I moved countries I imagine I'd be the same wallflower in my new congregation. Good luck hugging all those strangers.

  8. Sherre – love your thoughts on this! And have to say, I used to live in Maryland! (random comment, I know, sorry…) We lived in Bethesda back when i was in high school and then when i started at Georgetown Univ. (more and more random by the minute) Can i say, that your boyfriend sounds like such a sensible and super smart dude? Thank you for the great advice. I Do need to get over it and step up and get out of this cave. aaaargh!

  9. Reenie, dont move dont move! LOL You and I seem so much alike that Im telling you, you will be miserable…but then it will get better. But its such hard work starting over, sigh. Hey, i loved your Hunger Games / Telesa blog post today. Thank you!

  10. I have yet to meet an outgoing super extroverted writer. But then I havent met many in real life! Our alter ego online personalities can be very exuberant, but the hermit in the cave aint so much. Thanks for stopping by the blog CJ.

  11. I haven't been to any sort of church since I was about 14…but I think you're lucky in a congregation of people with the same beliefs is just a ready-made pool of friends waiting to happen!

  12. I know right, I do hate starting over. I especially don't want to do that to my kids. Oh and glad you saw my post. Well, I can't go too long without reading my book again and again. I'd rather obsess over Telesa than the Hunger Games any day. And why is it reading about starving people make me so damn hungry. I thought I would feel bad and eat less. I guess that's just not how my brain or stomach work. (so sad)

  13. Finding this blog today is lets say, a blessing for me, as we just moved here to NZ, Dec 2010, and everyday I am always lookin up for Polyblue's sales to go back home, as i am forever homesick, my husband and kids are adjusting here well, and like it here alot, but i find that it's ok here, but i miss my family back home, my friends, all the little stores i'm familiar with all the food i love, the market where i can just grab a cold coconut everyday. But we are here NOW and i do have to embrace now and living it:-). and yes, i go to a church too, where i know only pastor's name only because i tell myself that my real church is back home, and this is just a temporary thing (which i know it won't be a short temporary but a very long temporary:-). Well, thankyou Lani for this blog, and when i do see you somewhere i will come up and introduce myself. hehe.

  14. I do hope your short stay in OZ has allowed you the opportunity to get to know a few more 'strangers' and has made it a bit easier to do so back in NZ. 🙂

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