Every new person you meet is a stranger to you. You can say hi, but talking to them like you would a friend requires you to be their friend. There are some people who can connect with everybody as soon as they met you. We all know someone like that, but I am not one of those people. I wish I was. But I have my own way of connecting with people.
Everybody you see is very different from you. But you know, everybody has something in common. What that is, you have to find out. Once you’ve found your common ground you aren’t afraid of asking people about themselves, learning what makes you different and enjoying seeing a bit of the real person in front of you. That’s one of the things that makes me happy: I like knowing people. When I first meet someone, I ask them about their life. I hear about grandmothers, summer camps, divorces. I met a guy who co-wrote a book with his crazy uncle from New Zealand. No topic is taboo anymore, and I find myself calling someone “friend” who I would have dismissed before. I write back and forth with peers from all over the world, and we realize we have stuff in common, from the love of music, to our families, to our favorite brand of oatmeal. Positive things can connect us, even if the different leaders from our respective countries don’t get along.
This isn’t just a way of getting your point across. This is so you can understand the other person. All over the world, people dismiss America because of who our leader is. They would understand us better if they dismissed preconceived views. We can understand them better, too. This is hard for some people, but if a person is really bad on the inside, you’ll know after meeting them without any prejudices. People use prejudices to protect themselves, from the truth.
Think about it like the cave in Lord of the Rings, where there’s the big crevasse and its all dark, with one little bridge that connects. The little bridge is your similarity, and Gandalf will get on the bridge, raise his magic oaken staff, and light up the whole thing, so you can see all the awesome sparkly rock formations. So that was a nerdy metaphor. But you understand. And I truly believe that. I believe in similarities to understand differences. And it’s earned me friends already.