It was four days after Christmas. At my parents house, I somberly packed my bags into my car and drove back to school for the rest of the holiday break. Well…it was still the holiday break for almost everyone else. I, on the other hand, would start a Wintermester class the very next day.
Believe me, I was not looking forward to dragging myself out of bed to spend time in a 9 a.m.-1 p.m. class, five days a week, for three weeks. Because almost everyone else I knew would still be relaxing at their parents’ homes or on vacation, campus was eerily vacant, and very very cold. Side note, freezing temperatures and snow are only fun between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Anything after January 1st is just a nuisance.
So there I was, my first day of a class I didn’t want to be in, and I didn’t know anyone. I arrived just five minutes or so before class was scheduled to start, and I looked around to find an open seat. In the second row from the front, one girl sat toward the middle with the two seats to her right open. So, after a moment of hesitation, I decided to sit in the seat directly next to her. Why not? I would only be in the class for three weeks, and I thought it would be nice to have someone to talk to. Little did I know the friendship that would soon blossom.
The class was sign language and we were immediately taught how to introduce ourselves. I signed: “Hello, my name is E-R-I-N.” The girl next to me signed: “Nice to meet you. My name is A-U-T-Y-M.” Over the next three weeks, Autym and I sat next to each other every day, getting to know each other through sign language. Autym and I discovered that we have plenty of mutual friends, foes, and interests, and were actually quite surprised that we had never met before.
When Wintermester ended, we discovered that we would be in the same section of sign language for the Spring semester. To no one’s surprise, we continued to sit next to each other, and grew to be close friends. I am so happy that Autym become part of my college experience. She and I often joke about how I randomly sat next to a girl I didn’t know on the first day of class, and how we might have never met had it not been for that brief moment of gumption.
I’ve had the same experience several times throughout my college career, each more positive than the last. Meeting new people starts the day you are born, and should truly never end. Making new friends has opened so many doors for me and brought to much joy into my life. Having the courage to simply talk to the person next to me, in hopes of establishing a new contact, has proven more beneficial than harmful in my life, leading me to believe that there’s truly nothing to lose when meeting someone new. Starting a conversation can be as easy as giving a genuine compliment. Most people are friendly, receptive to compliments, and truly enjoy talking about themselves. More often than not, you’ll find that when you decide to actually tell the girl standing next to you in Starbucks that you admire her sweater, she’ll have a compliment cued up for you that she’s been too shy to tell you.
This is a real example of a person I met on campus, who I later had a class with. When she was looking for somewhere to sit on the first day of class, guess who she chose to sit next to. That friendship has led us to successful group projects (and consequently, good grades), and could lead us to help in other classes, future careers, even being in each other’s bridal parties. Just as you never know how you’ll meet the most important people in your life, you’ll never know what a stranger could grow to mean to you one day.
So, the next time you’re thinking of talking to the person next to you, whether it be in class, in line at Starbucks, at the bar, on an airplane, in an elevator, or even while studying abroad, just think of how that person could become the reason you pass a class, your future roommate, the person you invent a billion-dollar idea with, or the person you get married to. But you’ll never know unless you just say “hello.”
Check out my friends’ blogs, Selfiez with Strangers and Biggest Little Stories to see what can happen when you meet new people! What’s your craziest story of meeting a new person? Tweet it to me and I might retweet you!