From Strangers to Friends

Most of the time I’m looking forward to it, when I’m scheduled to attend a social gathering or workshop… especially If I’m attending on my own free will. But, at the same time I also feel a little anxious when I know that I need to be social, interesting – and not to forget – invest my time getting to “know” a group of perfect strangers, I will most likely never see again.

Yesterday I was attending such a workshop. I had signed up for one on how to utilize Mind Maps in the best and most effective way.

I was looking forward to learning… Even though it’s a topic I already know a lot about, because I strongly believe that there’s always more to learn on a topic you love.

As always, I was excited for the workshop, and in this case, I was excited to spend 3 hours on being creative and dreaming about the future… While trying to hone in on what I want the next 3 months to look and feel like.

I’m a very visual-minded person, and when I see and express myself in pictures, it helps keep me organized, focused and motivated… so, 3 hours of mind Mapping was an exciting prospect.

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Meeting new people

As with most of that kind of workshops, a bigger group had signed up to attend it, and we were about 30 strangers in the room.

When I was younger, I had a somewhat hard time feeling comfortable in mingling with strangers… I was able to be social and interact with people I didn’t know, but I was hyper aware of everything around me, everything I said and how people reacted to what I said… and not to forget, how I was presenting myself in a room.

Sigh… Just thinking back on that time, makes me exhausted.

Over time I’ve become better and more “skilled” at meeting and mingling with new people. I especially enjoy the part that occurs after the first initial awkward moment, when we usually start to find some common ground and we all start to feel comfortable in each other’s company…

The Workshop

At this Mind Map Workshop, I was placed at a table with three strangers… all women between 29 and 50 years.

What I most enjoyed, and what I really brought home from those three hours, was how amazing these 3 women where and how fast we trusted each other… After the initial exercises and work, we all quickly felt at ease and secure in sharing stories of our lives and we began talking about our dreams and wishes for the future.

I don’t believe I will ever see those women again, but that’s completely okay. We laughed, we shared and we opened ourselves up to strangers… and we felt completely understood and safe in that moment.

I believe that some friendships are just that: a brief moment of compassion, laughter and understanding, and maybe that’s all it’s “supposed” to be… nothing more and nothing less.

The Russian Roulette

I know, meeting new people doesn’t always turn out like it did for me, at this workshop… sometimes it turns out that there’s absolutely no chemistry in a room full of people… and 3 hours feel like 10 hours.

But still… Thinking back over the times I’ve attended workshops, where I had to mingle with strangers, I almost only remember leaving with more energy, feeling socially saturated and happy.

Maybe it’s because those who choose to attend the same events and workshops as you, tend to have similar interests and personality traits as yourself or maybe it’s because everyone arrives with the same set of insecurities, and shares an interest in finding a common ground.

Everyone wants to have a good time and wants to fit in and the best way to do that is to be open, vulnerable and interested in the person sitting opposite you or next to you.

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