So I got a divorce. And what do people do when they get divorced? They celebrate. Well, some do. I went to Vegas with a friend to eat at buffets, gamble, and drink heavily. One night we went to Tao for dinner, and then The Venetian to dance. There was a big fight in town that night – can’t remember who it was, as I have no interest in sporting events. So that meant a lot of famous folks came to the city to watch two grown men beat each other senseless.
So there I am, dancing my little heart out, I look over, and Usher is standing on a ledge about ten feet away from me… just watching the scene. I glance further down the line and Sean (P.Diddy) Combs and Jay-Z are buddied up, standing with their arms thrown over each other’s shoulders. Each was swigging from a bottle of champagne. I couldn’t help but notice Usher didn’t have a drink. Maybe he doesn’t drink I surmised, but the least someone could have done was got him a Coke! The pair was wrapped up in each other’s conversation, and never looked Usher’s way. He kind of stood off to the side and then I wondered further if these were friends of his or not. Perhaps not.
Jay-Z and P. Diddy had now taken money out of their pockets and were throwing it to the crowd. Usher just stood and watched, stuck on a ledge with this pair acting like Kings throwing money to the less fortunate and downtrodden. I just kept on dancing, every once in a while glancing at the man who looked like he just didn’t want to be there. That’s when 50 Cent showed up, and the festivities continued without him.
Somehow I felt bad for the guy. I guess he reminded me of myself at so many industry parties. You’re trying to fit in and look like you’re having a good time but you really want to be elsewhere. Sometimes you’d prefer to be sitting at home in your pajamas watching the telly. But that never got anybody anywhere. Sometimes you’ve got to put the time in, and socializing is an integral part of your career. It is an industry built on relationships. If you don’t have relationships you don’t work…. so best to order a coke and try and look interested.
Going into situations where you don’t have your “entourage” with you are never easy. We all have one. Those friends we rely on in a pinch and stick to like glue during a party because we’re too scared to venture out and talk to anybody. Talking to strangers is not an easy thing to do. It takes work and it takes effort, and mostly it takes guts to walk up to somebody, extend your hand and introduce yourself.
People like to stand in clusters, so most of the time it’s not even one person we are approaching… it’s a gaggle of them. We have to walk up to a group of people, probably already engrossed in conversation, try our best not to interrupt the flow, and make sure at some point we are seen and included in what is going on.
I have had the experience of people standing so tightly together, as in our money bestowing, champagne swilling friends, that no one else can get “inside” their little circle or clique. This is not a pleasant situation and if you find people aren’t willing to make room and include you, they aren’t worth knowing anyway. Best to turn and walk away and find another group of empathetic human beings who can see you’re by yourself, and are willing to introduce themselves and exchange business cards.
Don’t be daunted by this kind of situation. It can and will happen. Some folks just feel that they are better than everybody else, and are not interested in meeting anyone new, because they are silly enough to assume you have nothing to offer, to either the conversation or their career.
You will find yourself at these events constantly being overlooked and sometimes ignored. Don’t let it get to you. Remember that it says nothing about you, but speaks volumes about the other person. Don’t take this stuff personally because it’s not. How could it be? They don’t even know you, and aren’t willing to take the time to get to know you. Chalk it up to experience and move on. Trust me you will get a thick skin after a while, and won’t be so deterred and demoralized when it happens.
If it can happen to Usher it can happen to anybody. Sometimes you just feel like a third wheel and maybe you are, but do what he did, and stick it out. His fans were happy to see him, he obviously felt he had a responsibility to put in some face time, so that’s what he did. He didn’t swig champagne, or get a welcoming arm thrown over his shoulder, but he stood there, kept a neutral look on his face, and stuck it out for a little while. He did what he had to do. And so can you.