Why we should talk to more people

Illustration of two people talking
Nerissa Hseih/File

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Before we begin, allow me to set the scene. It is 7 p.m. on a Thursday. My apartment is filled with the sound of my footsteps as I pace around the kitchen for 15 minutes, only to stop and check the time. 7:15 p.m. Right on time. I reluctantly place myself in front of my computer, review my interview questions for the 20th time and take a deep breath as I begin a Zoom meeting. I hear the familiar Zoom “ding” that welcomes my company for the next hour, and I tap my foot on the floor with anticipation. I am nervous to do this interview — or really, I’m nervous that quarantine might have sucked out all the charismatic qualities of my persona. But in fear of wasting time, I take a deep breath.

“Hi, thank you for coming. How are you today?”

What followed was the most interesting and mind-blowing conversation I have had all year.

As California is reopening and many of us are getting vaccinated, it seems that everyone is expected to jump back into society just as it was a year ago. Regardless of this expectation, the reality is that quarantine has made many of us homebodies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it has consequently deprived us of what I think is the most important and interesting aspect of social interaction: the drive to meet new people and ask about their lives.

Being a student in a class that forced me to interact with complete strangers brought me face-to-face with something I never realized I was missing. But now that I know how interesting and impactful it is to do something as small as asking what someone’s passion is, I value it much more than I did in quarantine.

The truth is, people are interesting. Everyone has their own story and quirks, and the beauty of being part of a university, or any community, is that there are so many people to connect with and so many stories to hear. Quarantine has undeniably stripped us of this privilege and has made us a bit scared to interact with each other. However, as the world opens up and all of us try to find our ground in the new “normal,” I think talking to strangers may just be one of the most important things we can do. This can be as simple as a nod on the street or small talk at a cafe. Even the smallest conversations can bloom into so much more, or at worst, can simply be a memorable interaction that proves we all still care about each other.

As quarantine ends and summer actually begins, take some time to talk to more people outside of your life. Who knows who you might meet?

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].