Recently, I’ve been studying neorealism in my cinema class – one of the most fascinating genres out there (says me, a girl who doesn’t like genres or categories or whatever else you want to call it). Neorealism focuses on...reality; the moments we, as humans, face everyday but that many other movie genres choose to ignore or cut out. Think of the last time somebody has intimidated you with whom they are. By that I mean, when was the last time someone or something approached you in an organic way and because of your disconnect, you felt uncomfortable? How about the last time you were waiting in line or for a class and someone just happens to spark up a conversation that you can’t help but overanalyze the whole time in attempt to answer ‘why‘? As individuals, I think many of us have a tendency of expecting way too much – in fact, anything at all – at times I still fall into this. The problem is instead of asking ourselves how good that lone 3-minute conversation felt, we second guess ourselves the instant we feel misled. Stop doing that, because when you do you’re not only tampering with who you are but also your surroundings. Many of us can testify that the more you second guess yourself, the more you are enabling yourself to miss out on, whether it’s through doubting yourself within a conversation closing doors that hadn’t yet opened or consuming your mind with a past occurrence you “wish you could have done differently,” that you can’t even realize all of these second chances in front of you, flowing by. Instead of overcomplicating things, how about you just let them happen?
So how do you drown out the natural ‘guilt’ that settles in after an ‘awkward’ encounter? One, you keep trying but two, you realize that you can’t drown out this very justified emotion. There are going to be times where you can’t find the ‘right’ words to say and then you’ll notice that someone else will pick up the pieces for you. You may not want to speak at all which you’ll feel guilty of until you understand that a response isn’t always needed. You’ll feel intimidation and shyness when having conversations with people who seem so captivating and flawless with the ability to talk for hours until you learn that you can do it too and with many you will, with plenty you won’t and that’s perfectly okay. The significance is that no matter what the situation may bring, you will always be doing the purest human thing – connecting. Now, some of you may think this sounds silly or unnecessary, I did too once in my life and then I went to college which you don’t have to experience to understand what it feels or must look like when there are swarms of people around you what feels like all the time, especially on your ‘worst’ days. The thing is: if we were meant to be alone in our own bubbles, we would’ve been placed that way…but we weren’t. I never knew that a conversation in an elevator up to the 7th floor every now and then could result into friendship or ordering my usual venti iced soy vanilla chai at the time could result into romance. That silence with the right group of people was rarer than I had realized but also that I didn’t mind it. And it didn’t take me long to realize how easy it is, seriously, to be yourself – how much of a person or thing you get to know – the moment you decide to engage.
The truth in it is, as you first begin to block out all distractions and be present, you’re going to feel slight humiliation at times – maybe your words slur or you have a bit of a stutter at times – you may even feel incapable. You’re going to panic and freeze, your body will shake and your heart will race, not because you’re ‘stupid’ or anything else you may label yourself with but rather because you’re acting out of raw emotion that many choose to avoid every day, making you feel like a recluse who should stick to familiarity. I understand. We all want to stick with the comfortable thing or maybe it’s not that we want too but that we tend to as for many of us that’s all we know and all we’ve ever been taught (thanks society!). I’ll be the first to tell you, I didn’t even begin to get to know my own self until I started doing the awkward thing like being the person to start a conversation with five people in the bookstore line, gossiping about news from back home with strangers or vice versa (receiving it). It was when I was at the end of my first semester in college that I realized I knew more about my classmate than I did about my roommate at the time; I still don’t know an ounce of that classmates name but what I do know is that she taught me how important engagement is (pay attention to the next time you ask somebody to repeat themselves because you weren’t listening), how to communicate more efficiently (we only ever had 5 minutes to talk before class, random comments in class and 10 minutes after), and to feel comfortable with sharing myself (you don’t need to give yourself away, you don’t need to walk around with a shield either). In fact, the second I knocked the wall I spent a decade building down, I noticed that when walking away from a conversation I wasn’t second guessing myself. Instead, I enjoyed the pleasure I felt and moved onto the next thing like what I wanted to eat for dinner or what I was looking forward to and why. Suddenly, I became the girl who made a friend everywhere she went and began to feel real things in real moments, not after the fact.
Yes, there are going to be people you connect so well with then never cross paths again. There will equally be those who you can’t help but act foolish around and feel like you “ruined a perfect opportunity at having another best friend”. However, instead of looking at each occurrence negatively, always come up with three things you took away from the event. I challenge you all to start today and put yourself out there. Ask your cashier how they’re doing back and listen, ask them why their day’s going so well or just okay. Elongate lingering moments, encourage sporadic topics and wherever connection takes you, see as much of it as you can.
Comment down below: What’s one way you’ve gone the extra mile to feel an organic connection this week? How did you feel immediately after? What did you notice immediately after? How do you feel now?