One of my yearly goals was to select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences.
In October, I took a cold shower for a month. I'm still doing it today.
In November, on the advice of Jessica Stillman, I spoke to one stranger in a meaningful way every day for a month. Being married to a woman who speaks to random strangers (and befriends them constantly), I wondered what might happen if I did the same.
The results were shocking.
It turns out that I speak to a stranger almost everyday already.
I had no idea.
Between teaching, performing, producing Speak Up shows, coaching storytellers, teaching workshops, working out at the gym, and moving through my regular life, I meet new people all the time. Constantly.
And not just a simple hello. These are actual conversations. Names exchanged. Ideas shared. Connections made.
In fact, there were only six days in November when I had to actively seek out a stranger, and in each case, it was not hard. Three times I approached a parent in my school who I did not know. I introduced myself and inquired about their children.
I also spoke to a man in the waiting room of a doctor's office (we discovered that we had a friend in common), a man in line at a highway rest area, and a new employee at a McDonald's restaurant (where I know many of the employees already).
I can't say that I'm anything like Elysha. She has, on more than one occasion, made a lifelong friend in line at a Starbucks, a doctor's office, or a waiting room. She meets a mother at the playground or an attendant in a parking garage, and next week they are eating dinner in our home.
Last week, while purchasing our Christmas tree, I turned my back for a second to deal with the kids. In that time, Elysha had introduced herself to the salesperson, told him about my writing career, explained Speak Up, passed on a business card, and Lord knows what else.
I talk to strangers.
Elysha befriends strangers.
Still, it was a useful exercise. Before November, I had always viewed myself as entirely unlike my wife when it came to strangers. I thought I was an isolationist. Reticent. A loner. A guy who already had enough friends.
Not even close. My life, it turns out, is filled with new and interesting people. I may not drag these strangers home with me like Elysha does, but it turns out that I am not the isolationist I thought myself to be.