Becoming a Butterfly?

I find the analogy of a flower and butterfly a fun way of thinking about engagement at a gathering/party.  

For many years, I was in awe of the butterfly personality at social gatherings.  They flit from flower (person) to flower (person), seem to know everyone, and look like they are really enjoy the gathering. I was a flower (yes, sometimes a wallflower), always staying in one location and not really mingling. Flowers hope they attract the butterfly to land and chat. Or they have a couple of other flowers and hopefully enjoy their smaller garden plot.

Recently I made a conscious decision to “be a butterfly” at a couple of gatherings. Since I didn’t have another flower to be with, it was almost a necessity!  It was definitely out of my comfort zone.

A few observations as a new butterfly:

  • It helps if you know a number of folks casually, and there is movement involved in the gathering – getting up for food, drinks, dancing. I could stop and chat and easily move on (flit away).
  • For an introvert, it’s a hard shift to small talk with people you don’t know well or even strike up a conversation with a stranger! And it’s tiring.
  • You never get a picture taken because you never seem to be in a group when the photo guy comes around.  So there’s no documentation of you being at the gathering.
  • It is fun! I did enjoy the two gatherings I played at being a butterfly.  I had a feeling of belonging, even though I was never settled down.  I do believe it was better than sitting (alone) and hoping to attract someone to talk to me!

Becoming a butterfly is not natural for me.  At a holiday gathering the other night I shifted back into flower mode, and since I was there by myself, I sat alone for most of the evening.  I did not feel like I belonged, and didn’t really enjoy the gathering.

I am going to need to continue practice being a butterfly.  If my last few gatherings are any indication, butterflies do have more fun!

Are you more a flower or a butterfly at social gatherings?

Picture Credit: One of my Christmas crafts (angels, not butterflies).

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17 thoughts on “Becoming a Butterfly?

  1. Had to act the butterfly so often at business networking events, I now flit between feeling it’s a perfectly natural state to just not having the zeal to do it. I guess even butterflies tire and are entitled to their introverted moments.

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    1. As a natural introvert, when I was working I did learn the art of small talk with strangers, but not the act of flitting. I know flitting can be a learned skill and I’m working on it. I do wonder however if true butterflies ever need introverted moments!

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  2. I’m the lone one out in the group of comments as I am a butterfly. Even natural butterflies need down time though as it’s hard work flitting around. Covid kind of rooted me and now I find it hard to flit.

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    1. Bernie, It was interesting how many flowers there were in the comments. Hopefully flitting will be like riding a bike and it will come back to you as we emerge to more socializing.

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  3. Hi Pat, I’m naturally a flower person so I force myself to mingle a little bit at parties. When I sit alone I feel like there’s a giant neon sign over my head saying ‘awkward’! However lately I’ve declined more parties than I’ve accepted, so there’s that!! LOL

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    1. Sharon, Today, I went into a luncheon thinking “I’m gonna be a butterfly” and quickly reverted to my more natural flower tendency. I’m not sure how to sustain the becoming a butterfly focus – it takes work! Luckily, I sat with a couple of other flowers, so at least was spared the neon awkward sign (which I am sure I had last week!).

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  4. I am most definitely a flower. Being a butterfly is so hard for me. We were at a holiday party last week and it wasn’t a large enough group to feel left out but I could feel myself wanting to go home. The butterfly of our group just kind of stayed in the middle and went from conversation to conversation, pretty much dictating what was talked about. It was a nice evening but not especially fun. I’ve become less of a party person.

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    1. I’m kinda surprised how many folks claim to the flowers… maybe my like-minded blogging buddies /Facebook friends (where I also post) are like me – natural flowers. For me, smaller parties have always been more my preference, but that assumes you have a group for a small gathering. I’m still working on that here in Florida.

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  5. Congratulations on actively thinking about being more socially proactive versus reactive. Agree, I find it exhausting to be proactive but generally more fun. On the other hand, after a couple of attempts, if I’m not connecting with others I figure it’s not my crowd and leave early.

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    1. I am going to have to start thinking about when it’s “not my crowd”. Right now, I’m in the “open to meet everyone”, hoping some acquaintances will turn into more solid friendships. And worrying a bit that I’m willing to “settle” for anyone that responds to my overtures. Might be a blog post in that statement!

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  6. Hi Pat, I can be a butterfly when I want to, but it is exhausting. My nature is to be a flower, but that can be lonely at times. Like almost everything in life, I am challenged to find a healthy balance. It’s good to put yourself out there, take a risk, and be vulnerable. You never know when you might meet someone who will become a true friend. I love your sea shell craft.

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    1. Suzanne, I agree that the butterfly approach is exhausting when it is not your more natural way to approach things. Maybe true butterfly’s are exhausted too? I’m also still very much in acquaintance space and hoping for some stronger friendships to form over time. I know it takes time…sometimes it is hard to remember we have not been here 2 years yet.

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  7. Hmmmmm, for me my flower or butterfly status depends on a couple of things. The first one is much as you said, if I know several people. That is extremely helpful in flitting about. The second is how I’m feeling about myself at the time. Do I feel fat or that I don’t look good in the outfit I happen to be wearing? Then I’m more likely to be the flower. Do I happen to be having one of those, “I’m awesome” times then the butterfly is out in full form.

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    1. Candyse – Goodness, I only ever seen you look awesome! I’m gearing myself up to be butterfly at another holiday luncheon – this luncheon with one of the clubs I’ve struggled to feel like I belong. It’s a good mindset to try and have going in as it is not my natural state at all… maybe it will help me know more people.

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  8. Wow Pat go you! I am a flower through and through and will never be a butterfly. If a social event is coming up and I know very few attendees I just decline – so I don’t even rate as a flower! When I try to be social in a situation like you describe I end up with a migraine that lasts for the next 48 hours – and the pay off just never seems worth it for me. I must say that I fully admire your commitment to coming out of your cocoon and flying free – that’s a huge step and obviously a rewarding one…… I’ll be home in my pj’s if you’re looking for me!

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    1. Leanne, Chuckled at your comment about pj’s. I think being in a new place where I really do not know anyone has forced me to try on new ways of approaching life. I was surprised how much I did enjoy the gathering when I acted like a butterfly. Yes, it was tiring – I won’t deny that. The next day I cocooned completely – both times! I’m heading to a holiday luncheon today and trying to get my mindset on being a butterfly again. It is definitely not my natural way.

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