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processes

popping bubbles

stepping out of your comfort zone to create connections

It takes effort to pop your comfort bubble and even as a 99% extroverted ENFJ according to 16 Personalities, I often struggle with stopping the natural gravitation toward familiar faces. Despite the difficulty, however, talking to strangers has numerous benefits to both our social network and physical health.

Take talking to your neighbours for example, saying hello to Bill next door may seem like nothing profound yet studies show that, “people who considered their neighbours to be friendly and trustworthy were less likely to have heart attacks” (Hamblin 8). So if your heart can be impacted through a conversation, the human need for connection is clearly worth exploring.

This week was my first full week of classes and with it, a week full of introductions and… strangers. In reflecting on this week’s task to talk to one, I have deemed the term stranger relative. The term is often negatively connotated and associated with the slogan, “stranger danger” from my suburban childhood. According to the Oxford dictionary, however, a stranger is, “a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.” This definition has no inherent negative connotation to it, only suggesting unfamiliarity which does not directly constitute a danger.

My chosen strangers for this task were three girls in my English class whose names I won’t disclose for confidentiality. Girl 1, let’s call her S, was lost like me and walking in and out of the West Mall Complex in a desperate search of our classroom. Once we entered the subsection of WMC that our class was in I had a sneaking suspicion we may be searching for the same tucked-away door. I smiled and asked her if she was looking for room **** and yes, a few questions later, I had made a friend.

The second two strangers also stood by the same door waiting for the science class to file out. This time it was the two strangers who started the conversation, asking whether we were waiting for the English class. After confirming we were all in the right place, we started to converse and sat all together after our introductions were wrapped up.

Hamblin writes that “once we consider a person known, our behaviour toward them changes entirely” (18). And after our brief conversation, I no longer considered these girls strangers. About a couple minutes into the lecture, I began making some jokes based on the content that was being taught and was met with some fierce laughs and smiles. During the in-class break, I also complimented one of the girl’s facial features simply because our level of familiarity and her outgoing nature made me feel comfortable enough to do so. The girl was practically in tears at this as turns out, I had complimented one of her biggest insecurities. If I hadn’t decided to strike up a conversation or compliment her, a stranger would never have turned friend and my day would have been less impactful on someone else’s life than I would have wanted.

By popping my own bubble and stepping into the world of the unfamiliar you don’t only develop personally, but you can make a world of difference in someone’s life. Giving out compliments and introducing yourself doesn’t cost you anything, but they are worth so much to the strangers on the receiving end.

graph showing the different stages of exiting your comfort zone
Comfort Zone Chart

Works Cited

“Dictionary.” Bing, Microsoft, https://www.bing.com/search?q=define%2Bstranger&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=define%2Bstranger&sc=10-15&sk=&cvid=06AB9F3ACB6047BF9F630B26DE5171F5&ghsh=0&ghacc=0&ghpl=.

“Free Personality Test.” 16Personalities, https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test.

Hamblin, James. “How to Talk to Strangers.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 25 Aug. 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/08/civil-inattention/497183/.

Oliver Page, MD. “How to Leave Your Comfort Zone and Enter Your ‘Growth Zone’.” PositivePsychology.com, 28 Dec. 2022, https://positivepsychology.com/comfort-zone/.

“Soap Bubbles Digital Pattern for Cross Stitch – Etsy: Cross Stitch Art, Stitching Art, Cross Stitch.” Pinterest, Etsy, 18 Dec. 2022, https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/393290979971488166/.

 

 

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