I’m not sure why it caused me so much anxiety. It’s not like I had never invited folks out to my house before. To me though it seems that invitations usually had a “real” reason; birthdays, holidays, family visiting, open houses. One does not simply invite people out just because! Yet there I was coyly asking a friend and his wife out for dinner at my house.
Two things took place this year that pushed me to this “out of my comfort zone moment”. The first was a somewhat of a News Year Resolution thing. I had come to realize that I know a lot of people. I see them at networking events and out and about. And they are more than happy to talk to me at the moment but once out of that situation we don’t communicate much. I don’t invite them to my personal events and they don’t invite me to theirs. Our relationship doesn’t go much beyond the surface. So I decided I would make an effort, a strong, dedicated effort to get to really know the people that I enjoy spending time with. And my hope is they will want to get to know me better as well.
The second thing that happened was a friend of mine (another networking friend that I’d love to know better) posted this blog on her Facebook page. The topic was about having “Scruffy Hospitality”, not “I need to have everything absolutely perfect before I let people see who I really am” Hospitality. The author wrote about how he and his wife rarely invited people to their house, despite really wanting to, because of that fear of needing to have a specific perfection reached before an invite can be offered.
These two ideas seemed to latch together in such a way that I couldn’t ignore it. So there I stood about a month ago, in the doorway to the office of a friend that I had gotten to know pretty well in the last two years or so. We rarely see each other outside of a networking event or at work yet we spent a lot of time having conversations, probably to the detriment of his business, and really getting along. I met his wife at one of the networking events and we seemed to click pretty well too. So they were going to be my guinea pigs, so to speak.
As nonchalantly as I could I asked him what his plans were for Saturday. He responded by saying he’s heading out of town and then asking what I was planning to do on Saturday. This could have been my out, but instead I jumped right in head first. I then told him that I wanted him and his wife to come out for dinner on Saturday. I didn’t pause and went right into my reasoning and he didn’t object to the idea. So we found a day two weeks later and put it on the calendar.
As that day got closer I began to negotiate with myself about which chores I should do. I found I was making excuses to clean places that I would normally not clean: “Oh, I spilled milk now I must wash all the cupboards; “I need to mop because we have some grease ants coming into the house”. It went on like this for a week. In the back of my head, though, I knew I had to let things go. I had thought I should make my OCD list of things I really wanted to clean but “chose” not to so I could have a true “scruffy” party and then present it to them. That made me realize how ridiculous this whole thing was making me. Not only was I failing at hosting this “scruffy” idea but I was really stressed about this dinner plan. WHY? Why was this so hard? So, I started to think it through. And I realized that trust played a huge part with the idea of being who you are on a day in and day out basis in front of someone else. It’s one thing to show up at an event or party or someone’s house away from all your closets, laundry, kids, kids’ toys, stacks of papers; and be yourself but completely different to be who you are in your environment. It was a huge leap for me to trust people coming into my home and seeing that my kids had drawn on the walls and I hadn’t painted over it yet. Or that I don’t have any photos on the walls, or that I haven’t recycled in two weeks, or that our carpet is remnants because we haven’t had the time or money to replace the carpets our dog ruined while his kidneys shut down for a year straight. It all is having a trust that those people won’t come in and judge, or ridicule or even use what they see to gossip about me later. It was trust and fear. I needed to let go and let myself trust people and let go of the fear about these incredible insecurities I have. I didn’t realize that would be so hard for me. It’s easy when I hide all my insecurities behind a closed door or a dirty dish in the oven, but to purposely leave the stains out so the guests can see the real me was terrifying! The whole situation put me in a very vulnerable state. And yet I knew deep down inside that few people really would come to my home and judge me, especially people I like and who I think like me as well. As my friend at one point said to me; “I think you’re over thinking this”.
So I did it. I had “Scruffy Hospitality” and it was great. We sat at the table and talked over a plate of vegetables and ranch dressing. We created a lovely meal together and even the burnt burger was consumed. We shared stories, had a nice swim, and watched the kids play with the dog. It was a good night and I really hope it was mutual!
So it may happen that sometime in the future you get asked to come out to my house. And when you get here and you notice the floor’s not swept, there are some unwashed dishes and maybe even the lawn’s not mowed, I hope you realize that you are the beneficiary of some O’Meara Scruffy Hospitality. It’s not that I was too lazy to clean up for you, but instead I chose to leave my home in a state that’s more reflective of the true me and that’s what I want to share with you.