Recently I worked nights. I work at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, and we were optimizing the retail space of the shop, which is now packed to the rafters expanding consumer choices with products not carried previously.

Personally it gave me the opportunity to quickly get to know some of my co-workers, since previous to the project I had only worked at this shop for a week. Courtney’s enthusiasm lifts everyone’s spirit. Anna’s easy going, accepting nature helped keeps others grounded. Bob (Brenda) has enough energy to carry along three people. Brenda (not Bob) and Angie are reserved and steady. These women were a joy to work with, as was the team that came in to direct the project.

Many times I have missed the opportunity to work on projects with people I could have had much in common. I have been too shy to step forward, too awkward to step out of my comfort zone. Others were to busy doing to notice for long the silent shy girl who kept herself in the background. If I had thrown myself into activities in high school, my classmates would have learned a lot more about the nice girl April. I would also have learned a lot more about myself. Fortunately I figured this out and was able to encourage my children to participate in school and life.

This becomes all to clear as my 40th Avon Lake High School reunion approaches. New sophomore year I held myself back, more an observer than a participant. The school paper, or year book would have a natural for me. Choir would have been a perfect match. Helping with decorations and posters for everything, would have been a joy. But no, I belonged to pep club. The thing I am known most for is being part of a couple.

As a young wife and mother I was very involved with home and family. When I realized nobody knew my name at the church I had been going to for 10 years I was shocked. They knew me as the mother to my children, and they knew their names. They knew me as Allen’s wife. This is when I started stepping out of the shadows. I made sure I introduced myself, even to people I’ve had contact with for many years. I started helping out in the kitchen. The small group of women became mentors to me. Ten years later, I was called one of the church pillars.

Today, few people would say I am shy. They don’t really notice that when socializing becomes a bit much I retreat to the powder room to collect myself. It is easier to help clear the table than to make conversation. It is easier to have a project that dictates responsibilities, than to make a friend. Fortunately, small efforts to help out at a party, or projects with defined responsibilities, help us to see how others handle themselves, and lead to the formation of friendships.

I am still the shy, reserved person I have always been, and people have commented on how long it takes to get to know me. But these same people are also among those I will call friends for life, no matter the distance and time between us.

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