By: Henry Eden ~Staff Writer~
Growing up, I was never one to get too personal with anyone too quickly. When I would meet people for the first time, my strategy was to make everything into a joke and hope that nobody would think I was being obnoxious or forthright. For the most part, it worked.
I could make one hell of a first impression. However, first impressions were really the only ones I was making. What I came to realize in college was that showing only the surface of my personality wasn’t getting me anywhere. I thought my constant joking and excellent comedic timing were the reason that people would want to be around me, but it ended up holding me back from making real connections.
The truth about friendship is that people want to be around others who are interesting. We want to be with people who have ideas, interests, hopes and things that they care about. Everyone has these attributes, but if you’re keeping them to yourself for fear that nobody will care, then nobody will.
I rarely had an important conversation, and that was holding me back. Ironically, the first time that I really told someone about myself here at school, they shared that they had faced something remarkably similar. I was offered some wisdom to live by:
There is nothing wrong with having a real conversation.
It’s something missing from people’s lives, especially at this juncture. In a way, it’s kind of like society’s best kept secret, but most people love to talk about things that matter to them. I’ve made it a point when meeting people to try to really get to know them as soon as I can.
If I end up getting lunch with someone I don’t know or sitting near someone in class with whom I’m acquainted, I’ll ask how they are and find out what positive and negative things are happening to them. You’ll find that people appreciate your interest, and they will want to reciprocate it. And that, my friends, is how a real conversation is had.
Every person out there has interesting events happening in their lives. Make it a point to find out what they are. It is difficult to admit the things that matter to you. I, for one, am still pretty bad at it.
When you do get around to the serious things in life, you’ll see that other people can be incredibly thoughtful and supportive, and you’ll find that creating new relationships doesn’t have to be that hard. It’s the best advice I can give.