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I was that one.  The girl at the youth dance who would bop with her girlfriends and have a good, silly time until the slow song came on.  Then we would strategically disperse, having been taught that boys don't want to single out chatting girls.  I would stand near the wall, displaying a friendly smile, tapping my foot or swaying slightly to show that I was ready and willing to accept an invitation to dance.  An invitation that my friends, one by one, cheerfully received.  An invitation that rarely, if ever, was issued to me.

My mother tried to cheer me up.  "You're so smart and talented that boys may find you intimidating," she'd say.  Maybe she was right.  But I thought I knew better.

I wasn't pretty enough.
I wasn't fun enough.
No one liked me.

I'm still that one.  Many things have changed.  I have a loving husband and good children.  I serve in a meaningful calling.  But I still struggle to socialize.  After church, I stand in the hall, displaying a friendly smile, hoping for a little bit of conversation before gathering my family and heading home.  I observe other sisters chatting away, and wonder how they start.  My visiting teacher rushes past without a glance, rounding up her own brood.  Some people will smile, a few might say "Hi."  And that's about it.

I know.  We've all been in meetings for at least three hours.  We want to go home, take off our shoes, take a nap.  But don't they understand?  This is my chance.  I rarely see anyone outside of church.  I hitch up my slipping smile for a minute longer.  And go home feeling lonely.

I'm not fashionable enough.
I'm not interesting enough.
No one likes me.

I am probably a member of your ward.  Maybe my calling keeps me away from Relief Society.  Maybe I just moved in, or am taking faltering steps toward a return to activity.  Maybe I'm the one who seems to have everything together, who's too perfect for you to disturb.  Maybe I'm a single mother, or a military wife, with no adults to talk with at home.  I may not speak your language very well.  Maybe I'm noticeably older or younger than you are, and you think we have nothing in common.  I'm too timid to approach you, but I'd love to talk.

I stand by the wall and smile.  Come give me a conversational whirl.

Image composed from photos by Jasenka Petanjek and Adrian van Leen

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