I discovered something this Friday night – the “Missed Connections” section of the personal ads on Craigslist. Maybe everyone knows this interesting thing exists and I’m just behind on the curve. I would first like to clarify by saying that I don’t spend my Friday evenings browsing Craigslist personal ads! I was instead browsing writing prompts online and one suggested deriving inspiration from the “missed connections” ads. My interest was piqued, so I investigated. It’s a whole new world and an interesting concept.. missed connections. Romances missed, people you wished you’d talked to, and humans who simply caught your attention. We know connections and links to other people are important and we’re sad when we miss them, I guess? Some people are so bummed they go on Craigslist and make their way to the personal ads and write a missed connections ad? Apparently 🙂
There’s a Ted talk about every conversation being a link between people. This is so true! Yes, I suppose it can apply to the romance-seeker who uses Craigslist, but it also applies to those of us (all of us) trying to be more at home, be real with people, and sink deep into community. We all know that awkward eye contact that says “I know we pass each other precisely at 8:52am every day, but we’ve never verbally acknowledged each other, and now it’s too late to do so. So carry on, stranger.” But if there was a nod in that human’s direction the first time, and a “hello” the second time, and a conversation-starting-question the third time… It’s become a game of mine to initiate conversations with strangers when I’m at the bank or the grocery store or the post office. It doesn’t come naturally to me, which is part of why it’s such a game – I’ve turned it into a challenge! I have a few go-to conversation starters or phrases, but I’m always trying to come up with original ones as well. People just need a reason to believe you’re an approachable, nice human and they start talking.
The bagger at my favorite grocery store asked me what I’ve been up to lately.
Because I’ve become friends with my local bank teller, I was invited to his birthday party.
I asked how the dollar store cashier’s day was going and she told me all about how she had actually come to work feeling like crap that day because she doesn’t ever call in sick.
I got a free box of lettuce from the grocery store because I tried their free orange juice and struck up a conversation with the woman advertising the juice.
I’ve made friends at my gym because I heard a couple people speaking Spanish, so I introduced myself and asked where they’re from.
It’s still uncomfortable for me to do, but I love these little connections! Sometimes my attempts at making a link turn into an embarrassing moment or a complete failure in which the other person doesn’t even acknowledge me, but other times it’s an amazing conversation or some sort of new and fascinating insight into human nature – whatever happens, it’s always interesting. Recently I was catching up over the phone with a friend of mine from high school, telling her my latest life stories, and she said, “Rebecca, these things only happen to you!” She suggested I write a book about my life because so many of the little moments of my life are too good to be true. I don’t agree about the book but certainly agree that I have the strangest things happen to me, and I like them! I like to keep inviting those happenings into my life. Start conversations with the people you rub shoulders with. Be a link-maker!