Saturday, October 18, 2014

Take an Interest in People

If I thought the rule of love was that opposites attract, then I would use my parents as the example marriage. They are so, so different in all kinds of ways. Physically, they are opposites -- my mom has dark hair and skin that tans easily; my dad is blonde and burns in the sun. My mom loves art and children and feelings; my dad loves statistics and grownups and rational thought. My mom is messy and loud; my dad is tidy and quiet. Playful and stern; night owl and early bird.

There is one quality, however, they absolutely have in common: the ability to talk to people. Both of my parents can strike up a conversation with anyone. True, they may have different motivations -- my dad, I think, talks to others about themselves to avoid talking about himself (private man that he is), and my mom talks to others because she's curious. One thing is for certain: they approach people with deference. Everyone they meet is someone interesting, someone they can learn from, or someone who has something important to say.

Consequently, my siblings and I picked up the ability to talk to people. Every single one of us can walk up to a person -- any person -- and learn about their life story in probably as little as 20 minutes. We talk of their passions and pursuits. Their highs and lows. Their interests and hobbies. Their family and life goals. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we find people fascinating. We go into conversations expecting the best of people.

I'm not confident in a lot of areas of my life, but this area -- my ability to get to know people -- is an area where I am 100% confident. I am a model conversationalist. And it enriches my life. Learning about people is my absolute favorite thing in the world to do. If my job was to travel the world and interview people, I would consider myself the luckiest girl.

But. I am amazed at how rare the ability to make good conversation is, and as someone who recently moved to a new place, I am especially aware of its rareness. To be perfectly honest, I am dumbfounded at people's lack of interest in others. It's extremely trendy these days (in my generation, at least) to travel the world -- to complete internships in Europe and explore the jungles and beaches of South America. People are so eager to post pictures on Facebook of their trips to Scandinavia and cruises to the Pacific, but they are not as eager to meet a neighbor, a waitress, or the person they pass in the hall every day at work. It is not trendy to explore the lives of the people all around us.

Why? I've given it a lot of thought, and I've come up with a few reasons, but maybe listing those reasons here isn't as meaningful as saying that when it does happen -- when someone does express interest in someone else -- life is better. I can probably list a hundred times here in California when I felt lonely and unwelcome, but I can also list the dozen times when someone did ask me about myself and made me feel noticed, interesting, and significant.

Let's have more of those times, okay?

Thing I'm thankful for: Ariel


Blogger cardlady said...

Awesome Acolades, for MomyDaddy. And you are absolutely right. People need to be more friendly and interested in talking to strangers. I have fun talking with strangers at the fabric store. We have common interests and it's ok to speak or queation people. I noticed the girl cutting my fabric tonight had an engagement ring on so I struck up a conversation. Got to know her better and makes for quality service when someone shows interest.

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