Well, I finally found a challenge that will expand my comfort zone and it sounds uncomfortable, even impossible. Just thinking about talking to a new person everyday makes my head spin. I have no clue on how to start a conversation with someone new and not embarrass myself? What if I just freeze up on the spot, petrified? It most likely won’t turn out that bad, fears always bring up the worst thoughts, but the thoughts do race through my head.
I always seem to be over analyzing situations and psyching myself. It’s the same issue I have with asking a girl out on a date. I just think about all of the horrible, although unlikely, circumstances in which something goes terribly wrong. Then I think about the repercussions and embarrassment. Irrational as it may seem, I just figure that it’s not even worth trying, so I walk away. I absolutely hate that I do this! Hopefully, this challenge will force me to conquer my fear of rejection.
The challenge however is a little vague in the details department. Does it count if I talk to waiters, grocery store clerks, and even say hello to the random person hiking the same trail? In my mind, I don’t consider that talking to a stranger. They just seem like an exchange of pleasantries rather than actual communication. For my purpose, talking involves some topic that flows back and forth continuously between two or more people. I know a rather formal definition but I’m a scientist at heart. So if I am going to do this challenge I need to live up to my own definition.
Therefore, I have created some formal rules for this challenge. Obviously, I have to actually communicate with the stranger, more than just a greeting, so I have to get their name and learn something new about them. The conversation should be longer than a few minutes otherwise it borderlines small talk. The bonus challenge is finding something in common with the stranger. This could include hobbies, songs, food, and any other areas. Ultimately, the goal is to have a full conversation with someone new.
Some questions I am still grappling with. If I get rejected by someone should that count, or do I have to find a new stranger? I think I have to say yes, because rejection is a part of meeting new people. Next, should I be allowed to use the challenge as an opening line for talking to strangers? It might become a handicap or a cheat if I use it. However, it could take away some of the awkwardness as it gives the stranger a reason to talk with me.
If you have any suggestions on the rules or some good old advice on talking to strangers, I would love to hear them.
Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends. ~ Shirley MacLaine