Why you should devote a month to meeting new people
After a personal analysis of my work calendar I have found that I meet, on an average, two thousand new people every month. Working as an educator, song writer, screenplay writer, executive producer, and poet, I feel like I am in the business of saying first hellos and final goodbyes all the time.
This October though was different. I travelled all of this month. From Jhansi to Kolkata to the North East. Only a few days were spent travelling for work, the rest were pure leisure. I spent the month with people I have never met before – fifteen brilliant artists who were photographers, filmmakers, musicians, illustrators, animators, designers and simply good human beings – and totally loved it. I learnt new art forms, I had different, interesting conversations, I heard new ideas, and I grew as a person. Even everyday things like eating a paan, taking an aimless walk, and night drives felt brand new. I am convinced that it wasn’t just the place or the things we did, it was the people who added the freshness to it all. Meeting new people at work or because of work is completely different from decidedly meeting new people outside of work, say, for a whole month (we’ll come to why an entire month, in a bit). The latter demands for you to step out of your comfort zone, start conversations with complete strangers and, most of all, seek the kind of people you feel speak to your soul.
Everyone deserves a whole month of new people, every year. Outside of work. It is a gift we owe ourselves. Take it from somebody who meets new people all the time for or because of work.
Why a month, you ask? Why not a week or two? Because one month is long enough to make a difference to your year, to your perspective, even to you, and short enough to not bore you. People around the world do month-long happiness projects, memories projects, heck even selfie projects. I think it’s time we did a month-long people project. Here are some ways you can start:
- Travel. I highly recommend it. If you can afford to, money wise and time wise, take off for a whole month. You will find comfort on the road, through and with the people you meet. You will share bus rides with total strangers, who won’t seem so strange once you speak to them. You will find love, warmth, generosity in people and their food and homestays, all of which you will eventually compliment in more words than you normally speak. Meeting new people while travelling will overwhelm you. It’ll be good and bad, but mostly, it’ll be worth it.
- If you can’t go travelling for a month, then start where you are. Take a month-long hobby course in language or dance or music or computers or whatever it is that you enjoy doing. It’s a great way to meet new people, who you’ll get to interact with throughout the month of the course.
- Pick four coffee shops in your neighbourhood and go there every day for a month, without a book (maybe without a cellphone too). Chances are the awkwardness of coming across as a creep will go away in the first three days. Greet the regulars there (coffee shops always have regulars). Strike conversations with them. People often lead to other people. Be open to, and eager for that.
- If you do any of the above, there is a guarantee that you will stumble upon a fourth way.
Not everyone you meet in that month will be your kind of person. But some will be. And you’ll only know if you give one month of meeting new people outside of work, an honest shot. You will make some great friends that will last forever, some connections that will help you get more work and business, some acquaintances that you will only randomly bump into, and some people who will make you realize what kind of people you don’t like to be around. You might find a mentor, a critic, a therapist, a hobby-class friend, an art guru, a who-knows-what. The only way to find out is to go out there and spend time with new people for a whole month.
I am sure there are as many ways to meet new people as there are people in the world. The month-long people project can be as exciting as you make it to be. I’ll repeat what I said at the start, it’s a gift we owe ourselves.
What are some ways you’ve met new people outside of work? Tell us in the comments below. I’d love to know, and maybe use some of those ideas myself next time.
Photo credit: Vibhor Yadav