I believe in meeting someone new every day. If people would take the time to say hello to someone new every day, many negative feelings would be extinct. This is a lesson I’ve learned for myself.
One summer, while traveling with a school group to the east coast, the group made a stop in New York City. Prior to 9/11, New Yorkers were viewed as being pushy, snobby and all around rude, therefore, small chitchat was out of the question. However, one of my friends and I got the nerve to randomly ask people that we saw on the sidewalk where we could get the best hot dog in the city.
There was a plethora of answers, however, the high-ranking business professionals who one would have thought were too busy to talk to 13 year olds, were more than cordial and even went on to discuss their fine city. I realized that by taking the time to talk to someone who is just another somebody in a crowd really means the world to them and to you.
I remembered this philosophy going into high school. The first two years I was skeptical that my plan to talk to at least one person a day would work. I figured people were too busy to have a conversation or personal biases of strangers in high school would take initiative. My plan had failed.
During my junior year, I was asked to share one of the craziest things I’ve ever done, and the only thing I could think of was talking to New Yorkers who could have easily ignored my question, but didn’t for the single fact that they were no longer just a face in the crowd. Every day of my junior year, I talked to someone new; I’d find out their name, where they were from, and at least two random facts about them. I made a mental note to myself of that person in order for a friendly acknowledgement the next time I saw them. Some of my friends took my philosophy as a joke, but to me, it wasn’t a way to act crazy, it was a way to make someone’s day.
Some could say that I’ve gained nothing, and my philosophy is really just extraneous, but I see it as more. By taking time out of my busy schedule, just to sit down and have a conversation with someone new, I show initiative. By taking it further and recognizing those people again, I show respect. By respecting another person, I show tolerance.
With initiative, respect, and tolerance, the world could be a much better place. If we all just met one person a day, and continued to remember them, we’d not only make a difference for ourselves, but a possible difference to the world one face at a time.