The Things We Learn From Strangers


Someone once told me that life is a constant flux. People come in and out of your life constantly. Some may stay, most will go. It is impossible to hold on to every single connection that you ever have, however hard we try.

What is important though, is to enjoy everything as it comes without any expectation. If you meet someone whose company you enjoy, realize that they may not stay forever but at the same time, don’t get hung up on that. Don’t miss out on the experiences you could have with them just because you are afraid of goodbye.

I was flying from Cleveland to Denver one afternoon to visit a friend, and met a guy in the security line. We had dinner together and immediately acted as if we were old friends. He switched his seat so he could sit next to me for the trip, and the 3 hour ride seemed like it was only 20 minutes as we exchanged stories about life. We departed at baggage claim, and he texted me later to say that he hoped I was having a great trip. I knew that I would never see him again, but if I had gone in with that attitude, I would not have allowed myself to be so vulnerable in our conversations.

I believe that you can learn something from anyone that you allow into your life. I learned the importance of flossing from a guy that I went on a few dates with (his mom was a dentist.) I learned about what it was like to grow up in Mexico from a person I met at Jimmy John’s. I learned about a man’s struggles with schizophrenia on the bus in downtown Pittsburgh. I learned about a children’s charity in Nashville from a traveling advocacy group at a bar called Two Fiddles.

Don’t miss out on a conversation or learning experience because you know that you will never see someone again. Don’t miss out on a good time because you are afraid of getting hurt. If you are cautious, chances are good you’ll miss out. Everyone has a story, including you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and allow yourself to get hurt sometimes. You never know what will happen until you do.