I know, it’s been such a looooooong time. I apologise. And as much as I genuinely have valid reasons for being away for so long, there is no legit excuse. But I am back, and God help me, I won’t be gone for so long again.
How have YOU been? I hope life has been good to you and you are well. Can you believe it is almost the end of the year? God knows I almost lost my marbles in these past few months but cheers to us both for making it this far, and for still being sane while at it. I’ve been plunked into some challenging situations in the past few months, doing a lot of ‘living’, observing my environment and taking in everything life has to offer, and as usual, I’ll be sharing my learnings from these situations in the coming months.
But what I want to share with you today came about after I read this saying- “Stay close to people who feel like sunshine” (author unknown). It occurred to me that really, being in new places with new people offers one a chance to share one’s self, experiences, quirks, eccentricities and create either short lived OR long-lasting bonds with individuals one happily and effortlessly clicks or connect with.
Let’s admit it. Making friends and connecting with new people can be daunting, especially when you are set in your ways and gather with your type of ‘birds’ who have the same feathers as you. But as daunting as it can be, it is an opportunity for self-expression, which is why today’s post is about getting comfortable with meeting new people. And take it from someone who is as introverted as can be and does not willingly and necessarily put herself out there (yes, that is me).
In recent months, I’ve been exposed to various spaces filled with different people, circumstances which have made me exercise my ‘sociable’ muscles. I’ll admit, it is risky putting myself out there, not knowing how much of myself I can reveal without being too unpleasantly reserved/private, to be my truest self in my interactions knowing that not everyone will reciprocate the mutual gift of self-disclosure, knowing that even though I am being judged, I can still genuinely express myself.
But if you think about it, and if I’m being honest, these factors I just listed should be no deterrent to putting yourself out there, simply because new connections can be incredibly satisfying, enjoyable and fun. So, based on my personal experiences in the last few months, I’ll like to share 3 tried and tested ways on how to connect when you don’t know how to connect.
1. Seek out people different from you (and I mean people who look nothing like you when it comes to race, gender, religion, career paths etc.). While it’s perfectly natural to gravitate towards people who are similar to you, and there will always be individuals you are instantly drawn to, the richness of life can be experienced through diverse relationships and friendships.
But experiencing that diversity will require some effort on your part, especially if you love your comfort zone and if you are not the type of person that everyone swoons over. You just need to take the first step of reaching out to someone you want to know, and then see where it leads you. The biggest takeaway for me from meeting diverse people is the depth in my outlook on life. It’s made my outlook on life broader, intense and fuller. All it takes is deciding to mingle with those younger and older than you, including your peers. They all provide a broad spectrum of insights, and I speak from experience.
2. When you do find these people and you’ve gone past the small talk phase which grazes the surface, steer stimulating and deep conversations. I suck terribly at small talk. I’ve tried to be better at it but I still find it challenging. But when I am in conversations that are engaging, my alter ego emerges, and then it’s hard to get me to shut up.
What am I saying? Go past talking about the weather, or what the news headlines are saying and delve into issues that excite you and your new acquaintance. And if the latest news headline is what makes you both tick (for starters), then go for it?.
3. As you reach a certain level of familiarity with people, don’t forget to tell them what you find interesting about them. Ask them questions about their lives and then listen. I am never shy to tell people how I feel about them, especially when I feel I connect with someone. As long as communication is done with a certain level of respect and civility, it bodes well for me and the other person. Of course, there is always that risk of being rejected, but I’ll rather be upfront and honest than be guarded. All it takes is to notice what is unique about the people you are drawn to, because when you are genuinely interested in someone, the questions you ask them come from a place of honesty and sincerity.
Life’s too short to be sitting alone in the corner. So in the quest to enjoy more out of life, I have been putting myself out there by being interested in others while being my authentic self. It goes with a lot of risks, and rejections too, but hey, what’s the point if I’m not willing to be vulnerable. At the end of the day, it’s about adding more colour to my life.
Try it for yourself and tell me how it goes. We’ll definitely catch up soon.
PS: It was so easy typing this but I reaaaally struggled to find a proper title, so, pardon the awkward title.