I hope you take the time to watch or listen to this video. I like watching Matthew’s videos, because he does sort of what I try to do with the people I meet in my life; encouraging and helping others in improving their quality of life. Yet this one here stuck out to me. For those who have been around since the beginning of my blog, he talks about community, loneliness, and fear. I have always encouraged others to go out there and don’t be afraid to talk to new people.
Do you ever notice how many people hang out at coffee shops, but are to themselves? Perhaps you are one of them. There’s nothing wrong with that, as some people like the community feeling or just people watching. What is tough to see is that we as people don’t often give off a welcoming presence that allows strangers to begin conversation. Look at yourself or someone on the streets who is on their phone; in their own little world. It’s as if there is a giant neon sign on the forehead saying “Don’t bother me”; unless you are a friend of theirs. The sign’s not literal, but typically we leave someone who is on their phone alone unless they run into you or into something. Even conversations among friends and family have taken a hit because of technology getting in the way of just chatting.
When a stranger does start a conversation with someone, it may go well but sometimes the other might wonder what is the intent of the person starting the chat. Do they want to be friends? Are they trying to hit on me and ask me out? What if they want to rob me or wear my skin for a onesie? Okay, the last one is a stretch, but today’s society has this fear of being vulnerable because we don’t know what to expect and what might happen to us. Who cares if they want to be your friend or ask you out on a date! You have the choice to say yes or no, so roll with it; not everyone is the next Cable Guy (Jim Carrey fans will get it). Just talk to people, and get to know them. In a bittersweet way, we are a society built mostly on who you know, and not what you do. So you never know who you might meet until you talk to strangers. They may have a positive impact in your life!
It’s something we never really think about, maybe subconsciously, but truth is we have potential soulmates (aka best friends) all over the world. Not romantically-speaking, but just people you simply click with. A person that once you get to know, you say “how have we not met before?!”. Like you’ve known them for much longer than reality. I mostly have friends here in my state, but I can’t help but think that somewhere out there are people who I don’t know exist and they don’t know I exist. Yet if life brought us together we would be amazing friends. Someone in London may get along great with someone in Sydney, or another from Chicago might relate strongly to someone living in Cairo. The possibilities are endless if we just allow ourselves to open up to vulnerability, talk to random people, and even travel beyond our home (wherever it may be) to far-and-away places.
As Matthew said, being around others (even friends and family) can still lead to feelings of loneliness when there is no “connection” with them. I know this all too well. My family is distant, even within the nuclear family. Different eras, thinking and beliefs certainly do not help, but many times it feels like I am clearly the oddball. I have had to go on my own in many things, because talking with my family never led anywhere. I do consider my close friends an extension of my family, but sometimes I feel the disconnect when it comes to what is important in life or life goals among other things. And that’s okay! You are YOU, and you must put your values and needs first and maintain who you are. Loneliness is a time for self-discovery, but too much can lead to suffering not being able to share yourself to someone else. But do take time away from the world to reflect who you are: your principles, values, beliefs, etc. Yet not only should we try to be more welcoming for people to approach us, but we also need to work on interacting with strangers ourselves.
Again, not every person talking to you is trying to get a date or get something from you. We are social creatures in nature, even the introverted ones, and sometimes we just want to talk and enjoy company. The next time you are out and about, like at a coffee shop, try your own little social experiment. Try and smile to people who pass you by and maybe say hello. Ask them how their day is going. Even if they give you a cold response or something you weren’t hoping for, it’s okay! Like Aaliyah sang, “if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again”. Much like how if we do an act of kindness, it becomes contagious, I believe smiling and connecting with new people will encourage others to be more sociable and open. As I have said many times before my friends, all it takes is effort. Life is strange, but remember to have fun and take chances. Smile, and you never know who you might meet in life. . .