This past weekend my family was talking about how Millennials are some of the loneliest people in any generation and how we ended up that way by putting all of our attention in a tiny, little, battery-operated box instead of going out in the real world and meeting real people. It’s made it hard for us to know how to start conversations with people in person. Cell phones make it easy to stay in touch with old friends and family all around the world, but what about the person that is sitting across from you at the table? Why is everyone sitting next to each other with their phones in their hands and not actually talking? Why is just doing one thing suddenly not enough? We have the attention span of a fruit fly and no, that’s not just Millennials I’m talking about.
I remember being in college and having to do an assignment for a class where we didn’t use our phones for 24 hours. It was one of the most eye-opening (and difficult) experiences I’ve ever had (which may sound both sad and embarrassing, but it’s also the truth). When I went to sit down to lunch with a friend who knew I wasn’t allowed to use my phone and she sat across from me using Tinder our entire lunch it made me really sad. Not only to think that what I had to say wasn’t enough for her, but also, that maybe that’s how I have made other people feel.
I made myself a promise that day that I wouldn’t use my phone during mealtimes or when I was in a conversation with someone else and it bugs the hell out of me when people do. (Like fire-coming-out-of-my-ears annoys me.) I find it disrespectful, as if what I’m saying isn’t worth listening to and that can’t possibly be the case…I’m fascinating, right?
There are times when it is excruciating to be without your phone. Like social settings where you don’t know anyone. You just want to take your phone out and do anything to blend into a wall because it makes you feel less lonely and it also feels less impossible than just walking up to someone and starting an actual conversation. Wait, read that again. It feels lonelier to talk to someone in person than it does to be on a phone? Did I just say that? That is an actual paradox. That makes literally no sense, but yet, it rings true to me. Listen, I’m an outgoing person and interacting can be really hard for me, so I can only imagine how it makes other people feel.
It is HARD to be brave. The fear of rejection is SO real, whether you’re asking someone out on a date or just trying to make polite conversation and trying not to stick your massive feet in your seemingly oversized mouth (maybe that’s just me…).
I say this because I was at a bridal shower earlier this year for a beautiful friend of mine. I was so happy to be there to celebrate my friend, but I didn’t know a soul and I was so beyond uncomfortable. I kept daring myself to go up and talk to people and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was texting Domi from a corner I could hide in about how uncomfortable I felt because I didn’t know anybody. Everyone was perfectly friendly, but everyone seemed to know each other and while I kept trying I just felt more comfortable glued to my phone.
Finally, I decided enough was enough. I started talking to some of my friend’s family members and things got a little easier. Then we all sat down in our assigned seats for tea and the person I was supposed to be sitting next to hadn’t shown up. I had been chatting a little bit with the girl on the other side of that empty chair and she seemed super sweet. She leaned over and said, “Hey, our friend is always running late, why don’t you scoot over and sit next to me?” I had barely said a full sentence to her, but this little welcoming gesture was all I needed to latch on to. We talked and laughed the rest of the shower. Endlessly, it seemed, and when it was time to go I wasn’t ready to let go of my new friend, but also, when you go to make a new friend what are you supposed to do? Ask for their number? Isn’t that weird? Well, I didn’t care. I had a hard time making friends after college back in LA and I decided if she thought I was nuts that’s fine we would only have to see each other one more time, at our friend’s wedding, and that would be that.
So I said sheepishly, “hey, here’s my number if you ever, I don’t know, what to hang out or something.” I said it quietly so that I could back away silently as if nothing had happened, but my large arm gestures betrayed me. (I’m not sure I can control my arms when I talk when I’m either very nervous or very excited.) She smiled the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen and said, “totally! Text me and let’s hang out!” I had the dumbest smile on my face thinking, “holy crap, I have a new friend!” I did text her and now, Alex (that’s her name) and I talk almost every day and hang out almost on a weekly basis.
And to think I would have missed out on one of my favorite human beings if I had refused to put my phone down…
Happy Tuesday friends, look up and put those phones down. xoxox