rockym93 dot net

archive · tags · feed

Talking to strangers

18 February 201103:38PMintrospection

I think the worst advice you can possibly give a kid is "don't talk to strangers".

Probably the thing I admire most about my dad is that he can strike up a conversation with literally anybody. I noticed it a lot when we were travelling together, especially in places like airports and on planes. He started talking to, among others, a family of fellow Australians about to do the same trip we'd just done in Egypt, a French lady taking her baby daughter to see her Croatian father who'd done a runner, and a young Canadian couple who were DIYing it through Europe and were really into their bible study. He was never pushy about it, and never expected anything out of the conversation than someone to talk to - there was no swapping of numbers or cards, and a lot of the time he never even got their names. He just needed someone to talk to, so he made some friends.

The inability to talk to strangers is pretty socially crippling, especially since everyone in the world is a stranger until you meet them. I have to admit, I'm a bit reluctant to talk to strangers, but following that trip, I think that probably just comes down to lack of practise. It's not hard, really - most people are pretty decent when you get down to it, and want to make friends, or at least socialise. It's probably encoded in our DNA or something.

The point is, it's pretty pathetic that I spent about 15 minutes pacing around more than one tourist site in Europe trying to rack up the courage to ask a stranger just to take my picture. And the thing is, that shouldn't even be a thing which requires courage to do. It should be a snap (ha.) but something makes me hesitate, and apparently, go on hesitating indefinitely. If I was into that kind of psychoanalysis stuff I'd probably put it down to some deep- seated fear of rejection, but even that's illogical, because rejection (especially under such trivial circumstances) isn't really something worth being afraid of. If you get brushed off, or ignored, or snapped at, fine. It makes literally no difference. Nothing's been lost, or damaged, or scarred.

The alternative is worse, to me. The idea that I might miss an amazing story, or a really interesting personality, or even a chance to practise languages on people (although that's a whole other story) far outweighs both this hypothetical 'fear of rejection' and fear of 'stranger danger' (not that I still have any of that). Nobody cares if I screw up. People are just people, and strangers are just interesting conversations that haven't happened yet.

But I'm still working on that part.

< Arts Degrees. Ordinal Numbers >