Essays by Karen Anderson: Open Invitation
We have a friend I’ll call Scott who often comes for coffee. On one occasion, I said as he was leaving, “If you’re thirsty on Saturday around five, come for a beer. We’re having a few neighbors over.”
I didn’t expect Scott to come. For one thing, he’s shy and I understand that, being shy myself. It’s always an effort to socialize and you have to choose where to spend your energy. Further, Scott doesn’t know our neighbors, so he’d be meeting strangers which is an additional challenge for a shy person.
I didn’t expect Scott to come, but I needed to invite him. Needed him to know he was welcome. I’ve extended these open invitations before, invitations that you don’t need to respond to, don’t need to accept. And I’ve had them offered to me, so I know how good they feel—because they come with no pressure and no guilt.
They say, “I understand if this doesn’t fit for you and I won’t be offended. I won’t take it personally. I won’t stop inviting you.”
I grew up in a family where invitations came with expectations so mostly we accepted whether we wanted to attend or not. It wasn’t a recipe for a good time and I didn’t want to keep doing it.
Instead, I offer an open invitation. It’s a kind of gift, sometimes the best kind.