I was in Philadelphia for the Public Relations Student Society of America’s National Conference about one week ago. The conference was held at the Loews Hotel, and almost everyone who was attending stayed at the Loews. The sense of community at the hotel was incomparable. I would walk into an elevator full of strangers and they would all yell, “Hi!” I felt more at home in a city across the country than I do in San Jose sometimes. I quickly realized it was not the city that was home. It was the people. I decided to visit my friend from high school, Jill, at the University of Pennsylvania during one of the nights of my stay.
She called me with excitement a week before to let me know there would be a mixer with her dance team, the Quaker Girls, the night I was visiting her. “Look cute!” she told me. I was already kind of skeptical about the crowd of girls she was inviting me to socialize with, so I brought along a friend from the conference with me. She and I got to the event and quickly realized that we were not dressed up to par. All the girls were in dresses and heels, while we were in jeans and beanies. We are PR professionals. We weren’t going to let that stop us. I walked over to the host and introduced myself and she gave me an awkward glance and a weak handshake. It seemed as though none of the people at that mixer had ever introduced themselves to anyone. We were constantly being ignored. It was as if we were invisible. The most awkward part about this mixer was the Icebreaker. Everyone gathered around in a circle and said a little about themselves and followed the introduction with their favorite dance move. They actually performed their favorite dance move. After all of the unwelcoming glances we had received, my friend from PRSSA and I sat on the side and watched as everybody interacted in this Icebreaker. We looked at each other and–as if to speak with our eyes–decided to leave before it got any worse. I called a cab and it arrived within five minutes. We made up an excuse to Jill that we had to leave early because there was an emergency at the hotel with our other roommates. We did anything we could to escape that uncomfortable night.