As a child,you couldn’t leave the house without hearing this phrase:
“Don’t talk to strangers!”
As an adult, (with the ability to make educated decisions about your safety) the saying should be the opposite. Always talk to strangers, because these “strangers” are really just people who we haven’t met yet. By socializing with the people around us, strangers would cease to exist.
In my last post, “14 Things I Want”, I expressed my desire to meet someone new every day, to learn something new everyday and for the new people I meet, to teach me something new. This can’t be done unless we are open to meeting new people (i.e talk to strangers).
My friend Nicole and I were enjoying a nice brunch on Bergenline after our kickboxing class, a little weekend activity we like to refer to as “Punch & Brunch”.
At brunch, an older gentleman sat down at the bar next to us and politely intercepted our conversation. We were discussing the abundance of weddings we have this year and Matthew told us that he is a jeweler in NYC who meets lots of interesting engaged couples.
The conversation evolved quickly. Our new friend, turned out to be originally from Turkey and was very quick to share his entertaining stories of adjusting to American culture. Our favorite being the “peace pipe” party which he compared to the Native American and Cowboy films he’d watched as a young boy. We discussed how different cultures react to the human body, how the media can be so jading and how religion is less important to us than spirituality. Yes, all of these very serious and interesting topics within the first 10 minutes of meeting one another.
Matthew taught us how valuable understanding psychology has been for him and his career. His explanation for understanding others in order to create meaningful relationships in both business and pleasure hit really close to home.
By engaging with this complete stranger, Nicole and I were both left to leave our comfort zones and embrace the conversation as it developed. I felt like we broke down borders over brunch. We set aside any possible preconceived notions and just embraced the chat.
Think about how many times we shut strangers out. How many people we cross paths with in one day and how many we choose to ignore. Imagine how different our lives would be if we embraced those encounters instead. We should be more open to social interaction with those in our immediate environments. By asking more questions, leaving our comfort zones, smiling at strangers, going a little bit out of our way to be kind and friendly, I promise we will feel more fulfilled by our engagements. Our lives will develop more meaning in the everyday mundane.
There is unlimited potential in these unexplored conversations that we often ignore due to our own insecurities. A Saturday morning wouldn’t be so ordinary if we opened our hearts and minds to embrace the world in which we inhabit and the people that we inhabit it with.
Workout classes, bus rides, the bus stop, airplanes, queues of all kinds, the grocery store, a doctors office, an Uber pool, a passerby, someone you hold the door for, someone who holds the door for you… the opportunities for impactful connections are endless. I met my friend Corey on the plane to Croatia 8 months ago. Next month we are meeting up in Morocco and Barcelona.
Challenge yourself to meet someone new everyday. To learn something new everyday. And for those that you meet, to teach you something new. Talk to strangers and they won’t be strangers for very long.