Lent is upon us and in thinking about what I want to do for Lent this year my mind wandered back to last year.
Last year my Lent project was huge. I had resolved to conquer my fear of people by making myself hold a conversation with a random stranger everyday for the 40 days of Lent. I did not make it that far. I think I only hit about 10 people last year. Goal – fail… Though I think my ultimate objective behind the goal was met.
Since this Lent project last year talking to strangers has become a habit. I now regularly chat with people in stores. I hold meaningful albeit short discussions in lines everywhere. I deeply discuss religion and science with random strangers in the Barnes and Noble.
Everything started out as a means of over-coming my social anxieties and phobias… At some point I forgot about those anxieties and people/mankind won me over. People are so interesting and genuinely want to connect with and talk to others. I have found that the more I reach out to others with sincere interest to connect they reach back. Talking to strangers is now more about discovering what makes a given person tick than about over-coming fear.
Can I make this person laugh? Can I make this person smile? Can I give this person something they need today just by talking to them? Can I get them to bear their soul to me in five minutes of conversation? Do I get to “see” this person?
I get embarrassed by these conversations sometimes and really only engage strangers when I am alone. My friends don’t generally get to witness these discussions.These discussions with strangers are sacred in a way. Talking to people you don’t know almost automatically causes some filters to go away. They don’t care what you think of them, not really. You don’t care what they think of you. You are simply sharing a moment and since there are no strings attached and no relationship involved you get to be really real with no fear…
This being real with strangers has spilled over into my life though. It has helped me be more real with people in my life too…(Not that I was ever fake on purpose... Really what I mean when I say being "real" is being brave enough to open up more. Talking more. Saying important things. Striving to truly connect...)
Last year’s Lent goal was ultimately a success… What do I want to take on and conquer this year?