I have always leaned towards (totally clung to) the identity of introvert, slightly socially awkward and the thought that who needs to meet new people, anyway? I have a few good friends, audiobooks for life advice and apparently my cat loves me. That last one is now scientifically proven. So, I’m all good.
Yes, I am being a little dramatic and not giving myself enough credit. But it is true that I spent many years convincing myself that meeting new people wasn’t worth the pain, anxiety and general inconvenience of coming up with that inevitably-awkward first line of conversation.
I have been proven seriously wrong many times, but I’ll share two pretty great stories with you. First, I was proven wrong by a gorgeous Swedish guy and then a small-town Tarot reader. Their words and more importantly, their vibes offered me things that I could never have found in an audiobook. Or my cat for that matter.
Conclusion: People are a stimulus for wonderful things. Magical things, actually.
The Swedish guy
I met him at the very last hostel I stepped into during my travels this year.
After many minutes of uneasy silence and 20+ scrolls through Instagram, we started chatting. One thing I’ve come to realise: If you’re meant to talk to someone, your opening line won’t matter. He started our conversation by voicing his happiness for the ‘thick hostel mattresses’. Thinking about that makes me smile.
We spoke for hours, about topics that we both cared about and after our next few days of conversation, I found myself really valuing his perspective on the world. His mind was open and tuned to the value of things often taken for granted: the flight paths of birds, the nutritional value of foods and the ocean’s tides. Through our conversation, I saw a perspective and a few things stuck with me a little more than others.
Firstly, I think he’s got a pretty good definition of success.
To him, his crazy amount of self-awareness, the freedom he has created for himself and the moments which he is able to share with people are the sources of his wealth. I now tend to agree.
Before meeting him, I had been steering away from the idea that the white-picket-fence existence was the only road to success. He confirmed this for me as he spoke about the joy he finds in the details of nature and the connections he experiences with people.
He’s got the detachment thing mastered (or more than I have, anyway)
This pretty profound idea is something which seems to crop up in self-help books all the time, but talking to him made it real for me. I used to see detachment as depressing, since I assumed it meant not caring about things and being immune to the outcomes of situations.
Rather, he sees detachment as the solution to a narrowed perspective and limited freedom. With detachment, you no longer crave control. Its about having a core so strong that nothing in the world can shake you. Or maybe it’s about believing in this core, rather than everything that the world offers you.
He’s entirely selfish. In a good way.
Yes, there is such a thing as positively selfish (to 2016-Abi’s dismay.) Selfishness is an essential part of life that can sometimes be necessary for self-respect. Without it we are people pleasers, we don’t make choices for ourselves and we don’t live authentic lives. This Swedish guy loved everything, but since this also included himself, he found room to live life selfishly at times. We’ve got to fulfil ourselves in all aspects in order to be of service to others.
Meeting her was quite magical. She lived on the outskirts of one of the towns I only planned to visit for one night. However, after having dinner with couple people I met at the hostel where I was staying, I felt that a trip to see her would be an acceptable reason to extend my stay.
With no way to contact her and only good reviews and a vague address, I took a taxi to where I was told she stayed. When I arrived, I knocked on the door to find a relatively young face behind it. She was delighted to give me a reading. I recorded it on my phone and still refer to it sometimes.
What she said was so valuable, but she didn’t ‘tell my future.’ The thing I remember most about our interaction is not all that she said, but the way in which she listened. She gave my words space and a kind of respect that I don’t think they’ve ever received. She didn’t jump in during pauses, but allowed me to reach my conclusions before commenting. When she did comment she didn’t share great wisdom, but rather, curiosities and insights.
She lives with passion, authenticity, universal love, vulnerability, and maybe a little bit of madness.
These conversations are two out of a few other influential ones, which I am so grateful to have been a part of. Maybe you’ll agree when I say that while there is a lot of magic in the world, people are the greatest source of it.
Take out your earphones, get out there and speak to people. In my experience, there is nothing more beautiful than connection.