I’m not a naturally social person. It’s not that I don’t like people; it’s mostly that I like to be left alone.
I love my friends. I love spending time hanging out and talking about anything that comes to mind. But when it comes to strangers, I prefer not to talk. I believe in politeness and eye contact. I think that these things are important, and so I stop texting or reading email, make eye contact with the cashier or waitstaff, smile, greet them, and say whatever seems appropriate in that moment. I do that because I believe that people are feeling more disconnected because of forgetting to do the basics. However, even though I believe in making human connections with others, I don’t want random conversation. However, I value those conversations and what I learn about people. Contradiction? Yes. Do I care? Nope.
I was in the hardware store recently, and as an older gentlemen helped me find the part I needed, I mentioned that I recently moved to Austin. He started telling me how much he loved Houston, and said, “I’m old fashioned. I love women with big hair. In Texas they have more of them, but not as many as they used to.” People say the greatest and most unexpected things sometimes. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
A few days ago, I went to Walgreens because I needed two small items, and I figured it would be quicker to go to the drugstore than Wal-Mart. Wrong.
Although I got my items and paid for them in less than 10 minutes, the cashier started chatting, and before I knew it, a half hour had gone by. I did enjoy our conversation, but in the back of my head, I kept thinking, “I have things to do. It’s time for me to go.” I learned about this woman’s first marriage, and her unexpected third child. I learned that she likes to travel and works at Walgreens so that she has extra money. I learned that she has Apple stock, and that she once had a customer who gives all her saved money (like if an item is on sale and she saves $1) to her young son, and that he in turn invests the money, and that at 8, he owns stock. All very interesting, and part of me is glad when I have unexpected conversations with strangers, while another part of me, the larger part of me, still wishes I never had to leave the house.
I have extroverted friends who love talking to strangers,
being nosy inquiring about others’ lives, and just generally meeting everyone. I’m always perplexed by this behavior, but because I can fake extrovert, I get caught up in some of the same types of conversations. I just don’t happen to enjoy them as much as others. I enjoy the end result though, which is having more characteristics for my internal character bank.
So what do you think? Do you love or hate talking to strangers? Or are you too somewhere in between?