I have met some of the greatest people in the past few months. A yoga instructor from Ohio. A humanitarian from Houston. A PR grad turned law school registrar from Orange County. These are just a few of the amazing, interesting people who’ve done everything from aiding me in passing the time during an airport layover to helping me cope with an unnerving break-up.
None of these people would exist in my life if I hadn’t done one seemingly simple thing. Saying hello.
Saying hello to a complete stranger used to be one of the most nerve racking experiences in my life. Honestly. Those of you who “know” me (yes, with air quotes) would probably beg to differ, but it was something i’d struggled with for a very long time. I’m first to admit that, once the ice is broken, it’s damn near impossible to get me to shut the hell up. But making that initial leap often led to sweaty palms and way too much internal dialogue.
Why did saying hi to someone in person seem to be so freaking hard?
Why was meeting new people such a chore?
Why did making friends, as an adult, seem impossible?
How do I fix this?
As lame as my “solution” may be, I was able to overcome this anxiety with a little bit of realization. The realization that everyone is going through the same thing! Sure, some may be more outspoken than others, but I like to convince myself (whether I am wrong or right) that everyone is at least a little nervous when it comes to meeting new people.
Side note: A good friend of mine was vetting to me about dating and not knowing where to really start. They said something in regards to, “It’s so hard meeting new people. I don’t even know where to look.” Looking for people and meeting people are two completely different things. Surrounding yourself with people is easy. Meeting them, making a connection, that’s the hard part. It’s not hard because the people aren’t there. There are people everywhere. It’s hard because someone has to make the first move and break through that initial barrier that is simply saying hello.
We live in glass cases of emotion.
I don’t know where the whole personal “bubble” phenomenon started. Maybe it was when we were kids and were just starting to learn the importance of personal space. “You’re in my bubble!” “Get out of my bubble!” That seems to be our scapegoat whenever we’re in situations we don’t want to be in.
The “bubble” is the first line of defense we’ve erected to ward off unwanted conversation and advancements. Bubbles don’t work for me. I like to think our personal barriers are more like thin panes of glass. You see, bubbles can give a little…they tend to conform to outside forces a bit before popping. They can even latch on to other bubbles. I’m not looking to latch bubbles with people. A thin pane of glass is different. A pane of glass can be shattered. And once it’s shattered, it’s gone forever. It’s like that in life, too. Once you introduce yourself to someone, and get to know them a little, you don’t have to do it all over again.
So how do we get to that point? How do we find the courage to just say hi to people? Being socially awkward is not a valid excuse! We’re all weirdos in our own way. If I had to attribute it to anything, it’d have to be the fear of rejection. This is another fear that is easily remedied if you look at it this way. Putting yourself out there to a complete stranger can result in one of two outcomes.
- That person is pleased to meet you and conversation ensues. At that point, the glass is broken and the rest is up to you.
- That person is not pleased to meet you and refuses to engage in conversation. At that point, the glass remains intact and you are forced to move on.
Ask yourself something. Do you really want to associate yourself with someone from the latter outcome? Someone who is so unwilling to give another human being the time of day to simply have a conversation. Sounds like a waste of time to me. Therefore, both outcomes are positive ones. On one hand, you get to meet new people. On the other, the people not worth meeting weed themselves out.
This post is part of a series I call “Less Thinking. More Doing.” At some point(s) in our lives, we’ve all been guilty of being over analytical and often missing opportunities because we decided to spend too much time thinking about something and not enough time actually doing it. LTMD is all about changing that. While throwing caution to wind isn’t always my style, i’ve realized that sometimes you just have to tell your head to shut the fuck up and just do it.