Why is it that in periods of travelling we always end up meeting tons of people?
3 November 2016 is the beginning of my trip in the USA for the first time, I basically spent the day in airports, my itinerary included 2 connections to my final destination at Salt Lake City.
Airport can be lonely or boring, but it was the total opposite, I’ve met more strangers (What a funny word, we are all strange in our ways) in one day than during a week or month in my usual days.
The first one was an Asian-German Stewart with long hair. I was checking my on-boarding ticket and told him I liked his hair, of course, there were a few seconds of awkwardness then he had this embarrassed smile and told me thank you. He gave me back my ticket and show me his fist for a fist bump. I felt cool in the eyes of the other people waiting behind.
Then I met a Roman guy who immigrated in 1995 in United State and who now live in Alaska. He really got me excited to visit Alaska once. At first he looked very vulgar he had his arm crossed during the whole flight, a lot of muscle and big. He tried to get some free beer with the attendant. I was reading my book “On Writing Well” and he asks me if I was going to study in the USA. He had like a lot of immigrants such an interesting story on how he came from Romania.
The last but not least person was a wise Indian woman who did not speak a word of English (That’s good, because so do I). So all the words I or she said would always end up with simple gaze at each other then smiles. And that was more than enough to communicate. I help her with her bag, her seatbelt, and proposed her some “Date” (It’s a fruit, can’t find the word in English)
Is it my everyday behavior that doesn’t enough show openness for me to meet people?
The key to meeting people is in vulnerability.
You see, when my friend Brett picked me up, we had a big manly hug (OK… He just crashed me with all his strength). Then something incredible happened, I felt awkward and very happy at the same time.
Just to give you a bit of background I had the chance to meet Brett in a train to an airport, he was travelling with his wife in Paris. We had a 30 minutes small talk then we ended up exchanging contact. Then we wrote to each other for 3 years. Which led us back to this hug.
I felt very happy, like seeing a school best friend I haven’t seen for decades. But my first reaction was telling this joke: “Give me a hug because I’m cold, not because I like you”. And thinking back on this I think it was my default state of “Hide yourself in your funny shell to don’t show how great you feel”. Because that would mean showing weakness and vulnerability in some ways.
All my interactions of the day had to do with showing vulnerabilities and truth. Not just my title “Hello I’m Philippe a developer”. But showing aspect of me that are “vulnerable” or another way to say it : “authentic”.
Picture is from Seattle Airport