Talking to Strangers in Bars
“We’re all strangers connected by what we reveal, what we share, and what we take away. . .our stories.”
Some people are intimidated by traveling alone. I completely get it, but if you can get past the fear of going out alone, an incredible new world is there to greet you. I recently spent a few days away by myself for some much needed rest and relaxation. I ventured out a few times for dinner or drinks and realized one of my favorite parts of traveling alone is the people I meet. There certainly are times I just want to enjoy my meal by myself but more often than not, I love the conversations that come out of meeting a stranger at the bar.
There’s something freeing about chatting with someone who doesn’t know a thing about you and that you most likely will never see again. There’s no history and there’s no hesitation of a future. I’ve had people tell me things they’ve “never told anyone else” before, people share their dreams, their fears, their anger and sadness. Real, raw emotions. Sometimes it’s a simple chat about who you are, where you’re from and what basketball team you’re rooting for. But if you stick around long enough and ask the right questions, there’s always more. It’s in that space that you find true human connection which is something I think we can all agree the world needs more of. We spend too much time in our heads, trapped in our own little worlds. Our friends and family can help with that, but I truly believe sharing stories and connecting with strangers is what leads to more empathy, less judgement and a more loving heart. Humans need other humans and we need to be far less selective about who we interact with and share our lives with.
So how do you go about chatting it up with strangers? Just do it! My favorite plan of attack is to sit somewhere in the middle of the bar. Start chatting with the bartender and see if anyone around you chimes in. That’s the best way to get a feel for who is into conversation and who just wants to be left alone. See where the conversation goes from there. A simple, “so where are you from” is a good start. I know it can be scary to talk to someone new. We all seem to have the innate fear of what others are going to think of us, but people are kinder than we give credit for and most are feeling the same way. They want to talk to someone but don’t know where to start. Be the person to kick it off. If a bar is not your thing, try putting your phone away while you wait in line at the grocery store and say hi to the person in front of you. Ask someone how their day is going a the bus stop. Find out what their t-shirt means while waiting at the doctors office. We are literally presented hundreds of opportunities each week to interact with others but we usually miss out because we’re scrolling through social media or too nervous to say hi. Put yourself out there. Embrace the people around you. If you open yourself up to the world, I assure you, the world will open itself up to you.