It’s nice to meet you. Do you come here often?
Every relationship you have has had a beginning. You met the person and at some point you decided to keep meeting that person. Our social talents and experience are created once we begin to be social to someone.
How we start has a bearing on how we continue. We each have our own criteria for judging whom we choose to interact with, but the nature of how we meet people is not all that different from one another.
I walk every day through a park to get to my classes. In the springtime, I kept passing by this beautiful woman who would read a book next to a lamppost while kneeling on the grass in her pretty dress. One day, she was walking on the sidewalk toward me. She stopped across from me at the same time I did. She asked me if I was the guy from the park. I said yes and asked her if she was the gal with the book. We told each other our names and shook hands (not much else you can do with complete strangers). I told her I look forward to bumping into her again. That was the last time I saw her.
We meet people in public places all the time. Who is to say this is not a prime way to meet your best friends? I’ve asked out women I was walking alongside to go with me to get ice cream. I’ve started conversations with people at convenience stores just to be nice. Some of my best friendships are from taking a risk and talking to someone new in an unusual setting. Why would I wait for the Universe to bring me friends when I can go out into the world and choose the best ones for myself? I won’t ever pass up meeting a mystery girl ever again.
The first day of class is a special time. Where you choose to sit will determine your social experience in that classroom for the rest of the semester. I walked into my visual media class with every intention to sit next to the best people possible. People I knew from previous classes were already seated and pulling out their binders. They had chosen their spots. I didn’t want to sit next to people I already knew. I can meet those people in my free time. Instead, I chose to sit next to the most beautiful woman in the class.
I knew her from a previous class we had together. She sat in another row then. At another time, I had the privilege of standing next to her in line to return textbooks. We got to talking and I was surprised she remembered my name. In visual media class, I decided to throw away my inhibitions and sit next to the interesting woman. My fear was that I would be awkward and not represent myself well. I was right. But I didn’t care. My thinking was that I was not going to create any walls between me and other people. I would bring up any topic I could think of just so I could talk to her. She was always so kind and considerate of others. After asking for some advice about meeting people she said she had to go but she gave me her phone number and said if I needed more advice I could call her. I am honored to call her one of my best friends now.
Circumstances will place us in proximity with certain people often for a set amount of time. We spend all of grade school talking to the same people over and over again. We form a bond with the people at our jobs whether we like it or not. Even the people we sit with at the movie theater are interacting with us. It is our choice whether or not we wish to select people out of these situations to meet us in different circumstances.
My brother set me up on a blind date with a woman who was pregnant. That didn’t go anywhere. My sister tried to set me up with a woman who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. I refused. Why do friends and family try to hook me up with people they aren’t friends with? No one has ever tried to hook me up with their best friend. That would be a compliment.
Meeting people leads to meeting people. Every relationship we make is already part of an interconnected web of sociality. Make friends with one person and you’ll eventually meet their friends and family. Everybody knows somebody. Going to a friend’s party is a good way to meet new people. Maybe you have a friend who likes to set you up with people they know? I wish you better luck than I have had.
A Real Treat
In whatever situation you find yourself, be good. People are watching you. They are deciding whether or not to talk to you. Show them something great. Give them something to brag about.
Not all relationships start out positive. A rough start is not always a sign of future problems. On the other hand, smooth sailing does not mean the storm will never come. The best course is to treat everyone with equal respect and honor a special few you choose to be close to.
Most people do not approach me. I am often the one who has to make the first move. That’s fine by me. I know many people who respect me and are just shy about starting the conversation. Trust me when I say it never gets easier. Just know that the friends you haven’t met yet are worth making.