Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coming to terms with myself: talking to strangers

Here’s something else that I’ve thought about a lot.

I have a chronic habit of talking to people.  I probably never thought much about it until one of my children (he who shall not be named) started expressing annoyance that when we were out together I invariably struck up a conversation with the people that we interacted with.  Each time he would ask me in irritation, “Do you have to talk to everyone???” 

The result was that while I didn’t necessarily talk to fewer people, I felt less comfortable doing it—without even realizing that I had let his comments affect me. 

While we were in Utah Russ & I went to a 3 day seminar.  There were probably 15 or 20 other couples in the seminar with us.  Invariably during the breaks I would end up talking to someone, even though I now have this little voice in the back of my head telling me that maybe I shouldn’t.  But gradually I began to realize that each interaction ended up being a happy moment in the day, that I left the interaction happier than I entered it, and that the other person also seemed lifted by the interaction

So do you know what?  I’m not going to fight it or even question it any more.  I’m going to accept this part of myself.  I am a person who likes people.  I am a person who is interested in people.  I am a person who enjoys talking.

One day while I was in Utah I was in Walgreens.  The man who checked me out had such an interesting accent.  After a moment of hesitation (actually after he did something really nice for me and let me change my mind about which credit card to use) I told him that I thought his accent was beautiful.  He explained that it was because English wasn’t his first language.  When I asked what language was, he said Nepalese.  So of course I had to ask him if he’d climbed Mt. Everest, and we had a nice little conversation.  I left the store smiling.

Hi.  My name is Cindy and I like talking to people.  Even people I don’t know!


  1. Okay, time for a different perspective then. Everywhere we go with my dad, he talks to strangers. Waiting at restaurants, suddenly he's got a new friend. He knows where they're from, where they've been, what their family names are and whether we're all related. (It seems we usually are, wherever we go.) My mom rolls her eyes sometimes a little but I'm always so jealous and thinking I've got to learn to do that. How much more you've gained by getting a few sentences of a person's story while waiting than you would by just sitting awkwardly next to them! So, far from thinking that's weird, I think it's a skill I'd dearly love to cultivate. Except the people with the drunken homeschooling-mom daughter. It would have been better not to have heard their story.

  2. I have a quote for you that I love by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

    "With the Holy Spirit as our guide, our conscience stays vibrant and alive. Things which we had never supposed come into view. Seeming routine turns out to be resplendent. Ordinary people seem quite the opposite. What we once thought to be the mere humdrum of life gives way to symphonic strains. Circumstances or a mere conversation, which look quite pedestrian, nevertheless cause a quiet moment of personal resolve and a decision affecting all eternity is made...but there are no bands playing and there are no headlines." --After reading this quote, I think most conversations are great!

  3. Funnily enough, although I was the kid who made friends at the fabric store ;), I somewhere in my adulthood got awkward about striking up conversations with strangers - and its' actually something I've been working lately to get back to doing. Because seriously, it's so much more fulfilling than sitting around not quite meeting peoples' eyes, like most seem to do...