Week 1: Talking to Strangers

Do you ever miss being a kid and being able to spark up conversations and chat with anyone and everyone?

I certainly do. When I was younger I would intentionally try and hold awkward conversations to make adults uncomfortable. I have no idea why I did it. I was a weird kid. 

My friends and I would play this game which was the opposite of ding dong ditch. Instead of ringing the bell and running away. We would ring the bell and try and have a conversation with the person for as long as possible. The other kids would be timing us around the corner. Now I’d like to tell you that I was some kind of conversation king back in the day, but I was probably average at best. But I always had this ability to start a conversation with someone wherever I was.

That all changed around the same time I came to university. I have no idea when or why I became this introverted, but I find myself keeping to myself quite a bit, especially on transit. Which is weird because when I was in high school I could not shut the fuck up on transit. I hated travelling alone so I would always find someone to converse with along the journey, and I met a lot of interesting people that way.

For some reason, that all changed when I moved here. Which is weird because Canadians are a lot more receptive to conversations.But maybe it’s because I started to view myself differently. I didn’t feel like a kid anymore, and now I felt like an adult. Somewhere I figured it’s what all adults do. Keep to themselves. 

So when I had to speak to a stranger for an assignment, somewhere I was quite excited to begin. I’m not going to lie, I spent like 10 minutes walking around like a weirdo trying to muster up the courage to start a conversation with someone. I was painfully concerned with what they would think, how they would react, etc. I’m aware that during a pandemic people aren’t as socially receptive as they used to be, but I figured it would make for a good story.

My conversation was with a Skateboarder on the bus back home. He was the only one without headphones on, so I made a comment about his skateboard (I can’t remember exactly what it was). I lied and said that I’ve always wanted to get into skateboarding but never had the courage, and we had a good conversation about skateboard culture, injuries, and childhood stories. Just like when I was a teenager, the entire journey was spent conversing and I actually felt energized instead of drained by the time I made it home.

I’d be lying if I said this exercise was life-changing and it made me return to my former self. However, I cannot deny that it has made me realize the joy of conversations. It also made me realize that maybe a large part of the reason I’m so insecure to start conversations is the fear of making a dumb joke that might be misinterpreted as me being rude. A lot of it probably stems from social media, where we are constantly judging each other and aren’t being vulnerable. But when it’s just two people sharing stories. No one cares. No one really minds, since they know it’s all in good spirit. It hasn’t removed my fear of judgement, but it definitely has made it a bit easier for me to start conversations with people.  

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