In my thirties, I’ve come to greatly appreciate my interaction with strangers. When I say ‘strangers,’ I mean people you meet out in your community, in your daily life – at the grocery store for instance, or on the bus or train.
I think we sometimes discount these moments as just part of the fabric and niceties of life, but I’ve come to discover these interactions can affect one’s day in a big way.
Thirty seconds or a minute of interaction between strangers can be day-altering. You can feel appreciated and ‘seen’ by people you’ve never met before. That’s powerful and has the ability to change the course and mood of someone’s day.
I did a comedy show last week, and while it wasn’t a disaster, it also wasn’t the best I could do. Right after I had begun my set, the mic fell out of the cord connecting it to power, and for a few seconds, my voice went from crisp and loud to inaudible. I started making corny jokes that no one could hear and looked like a crazy woman mumbling to herself. The host had to come on stage during my set and fix the situation. But I was off my game at that point. I kept on going, but I had lost some of my initial momentum.
I walked off the stage and into the crowd feeling disappointed in my performance. I spent the rest of the show watching the other comics, but beating myself up internally. I thought about possibly giving up on stand-up. Maybe this wasn’t a medium for me.
When the night was over, a man came up to me to talk about the show. He told me that I was one of his favorites because I seemed so real and authentic, that I wasn’t putting on a persona. He seemed genuine and thoughtful. He told me to keep going with this whole stand-up thing.
That minute of interaction with the man pushed me to continue on with stand-up. So for one minute of stranger interaction, I will end up spending hours and hours continuing to pursue stand-up.
This article by Elizabeth Crisci speaks to the benefits of talking to strangers quite beautifully. I love what she wrote below:
Giving the gift of our attention to people that we know, and those we don’t, is not only generous, it empowers us as well as the person we are talking with.