A Dramatic Introduction, Social Animals & The Art Of Conversations
Learning that we’re all the same and looking up how to make friends on Youtube.
This one’s about conversations.
A Story For You
I grew up in a defense household. At first glance, I know that sounds intimidating and uptight. But my parents are truly charming people (I promise) and my family has always inculcated an aura of mutual respect. What is intimidating though, is moving houses every 2 years (Vishruth recently wrote about the silver lining in shifting base in the previous issue).
Growing up, I never had the time to make long-term friends, or even short-term acquaintances for that matter. I couldn’t form deep or meaningful connections and I began to feel alienated. Eventually, I grew to believe that I would never make any genuine friends. Maybe these were the cards reality had dealt me - I’m just not compatible with people.
But boy, was I wrong. It all changed when I moved to Goa, a magical place where everyone knows everyone. No exaggeration, it’s truly that small! I was apprehensive on the first day of school. As the bell rang and I walked home, I realized that I made no friends on day 1. Everyone had managed to find a circle, people they knew, and got along with. Melancholically I thought, ‘That’s how it’s going to be for the rest of my life.’
And what I thought translated to reality… for the most part, everything stayed the same for the next 4 years. But everything came shattering down when my parents decided to settle down in Goa. Nomads trying to settle down meant disaster; it had been 4 years and I had made no friends, hoping for a fresh start soon.
“But I was ready to move out and find new people!” I told my mother.
“What’s wrong with the people here?” She asked me.
I had no answer and so I retreated to my room for a self-evaluation. I realised that I had grown so accustomed to moving away that I never put in the effort to make any friends. I’d accepted the terms complacently and never challenged them. ‘What’s the point? I’ll move out of here anyway.’
Obviously, I knew things had to change. I decided to learn, the way that you would learn anything else. I looked up - How to make friends? on Youtube. But everything that the video suggested seemed tacky and lame. So I took matters into my own hands.
The next day, I walked into class and announced my arrival. “Hello potential friends, I’m Harsh!” I proclaimed. It was really dramatic. And it was also really quiet.
I was expecting some applause, a cheer, or at least a cursory glance. But something did happen later that day. A group of boys met me after the school bell rang.
“We know who you are, Harsh. You’ve been here for 4 years but we just thought you didn’t want to make friends.”
“Huh? But I’m always trying to make friends,” I confidently retorted.
“What are our names then?” A boy asked me laughing as loud as he could.
He’d won. I’d never made the effort because I’d accepted that I would eventually move. As embarrassing as that was, we all had a good laugh.
“We’re all social animals here, Harsh. We all need someone.”
That sentence was incredibly heartwarming. I thought people didn’t like me. Turns out, I never took the first step. When I look back now, I realize how important it was for me to understand this. I’m the polar opposite now. I try to talk to everyone I meet, I love getting to know people, and I love hanging out with my friends!
One thing that I’ve realized over time is that we’re all quite the same. We all want to feel loved, and have a sense of belongingness.
And the only way to find this is through people. It’s that simple. We all need someone to share our victories with or to indulge in pity parties. You have to make that move, no matter how shy you are, or how intimidated you may be. Talk to people, go out for that movie with friends, and make plans!
I know it sounds tough and even daunting to many, but what’s the worst that could happen? We often tend to think about things in conclusive terms and grow anxious.
But let me put it this way, if you talk to someone, there are only two outcomes. You either befriend them or you don’t.
In case you don’t, you didn’t lose anything! Things remain exactly as they were before and the Earth stays in orbit.
And in case you did befriend someone, you now have a new friend! It’s a win-win for everyone. Think about it!
The people you interact with have a huge impact on your life and you may not even notice it. The best way I can put it is ‘People are strange when you're a stranger.’ It’s the title of a song by The Doors and it is our only takeaway: don’t be a stranger.
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A Story From You
Have you ever spoken to a random stranger? Just to get stories out of them? I have, in fact, I can’t seem to stop. And guess what - it’s really fun!
It’s this odd sense of comfort when you realize a stranger connects with you surprisingly well and you can draw parallels between your journeys. All it takes is one conversation to realize that no one’s a stranger if you talk to them!
Tell me about your experiences. Have you ever gone up to someone to have a conversation? How did it go? Were you scared? Are you friends with them now?
I want to know everything! And yes, I understand it might seem tough to hold a conversation or even approach people. But give it a shot and trust me, it’s worth it. If you’d like, strike up a conversation with me, I’d love to talk!
I love hearing from you, in fact, here’s a comment that got me thinking from Reshma Khan:
Every moment leaves us with an experience or a lesson. It’s all up to the individual, i.e. how one takes it. No matter, it’s difficult though.
Till next time,