I am a second semester senior, and although I currently have a thesis to write that I’ve been slacking on, classes to catch up on, and graduate schools to visit, I have a big personal project I’m undertaking. It’s called “Meeting New People.”
When: Feb 1st to May 10th
What: 75 coffee dates with either people who I’ve never met before or acquaintances/mutual friends who I don’t know very well
Where: University of Puget Sound campus
How: My 5-step plan,
Step 1: Encounter new people at parties, the SUB, waiting in line, etc.
Step 2: Engage in small talk
Step 3: Ask them on a coffee date
Step 4: Get number, set up time, etc.
Step 5: Get to know them in the 30-60 min coffee date.
Why I’m doing this:
If someone were to ask me what I’d miss most about Puget Sound, I would say, “my friends.”
But after a brief epiphany I think I would correct myself and say “the opportunity to make new friends.”
In my four years at Puget Sound, I’ve realized that everyone here is friendly: I know my professors as friends rather than as teachers; I’m still on good terms with people that I briefly met 3.5 years ago during Orientation; and having personal conversations with cafeteria and security workers is not uncommon.
The people here are friendly, but not everyone is proactive about making friends.
Not even me.
In fact, most of my friendships were made by chance (e.g., we lived together, she was in my group project, we were on the same athletic team, etc.). Life is too short to wait for friendships “to happen,” so why shouldn’t I jump at the chance to purposefully meet random people, especially those whose paths are least likely to converge with mine (theater/english/music majors, people who live off-campus, freshmen, etc.)?
After all, outside of college, it’s probably never going to be THIS easy to make new friends. Shoot, when in my lifetime will I be surrounded by 2,500 people my age ever again? This could be the greatest opportunity for me to get to know as many people as I can.
And meeting new people isn’t for the sake of increasing numbers. It’s about immersing myself in the boundless human variety that Puget Sound offers. You’d be amazed at how much you can learn about someone in less than an hour of talking. In fact, every single person from my 22 coffee dates (so far) has taught me something new.
What’s stopped me in the past?
I feared rejection and what people will say about me. That’s it. Plain and clear. These irrational fears, along with my wild imagination, were huge hindrances for me to meet new people.
“What if my professor thinks I’m a brown-noser and tells the entire department? I’ll never be taken seriously.”
“What if she thinks I’m predatory? Oh no, she’ll tell all her friends and every girl on campus will shun me forever.”
“What if he thinks I’m hitting on him? Oh no, he’ll tell his friends and now every guy I talk to will think I’m hitting on them.”
These nonsensical scenarios have never happened (at least, not to my knowledge).
Also, last year, I embarked on a journey called Rejection Therapy (click HERE for rules), a month-long game in which the only rule is that you must be rejected by another person everyday. I did this with one of my best friends and we texted each other whenever we got “rejected” (click HERE to find out what counts as a rejection). It really helps to have a friend to keep you accountable in this game. After just two weeks into the game, I gained a lot of self confidence, and realized that most people are very receptive and are rarely ever unkind.
What I can expect to gain:
New friends. New insights. Better conversational skills. Lessened fear of rejection. Coming out of my shell, and a chance to inspire others to come out of their shell.
What you can do right now
1) If you ever feel that this campus has gotten dull, try making new friends. Next time you’re in line at the SUB, start a conversation with the person right behind you. It’s as simple as “hey, how’s it going?”
2) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can schedule a coffee date! I’m really far behind on my goal of 75.
3) Bookmark this page so I can update you on what I’ve been learning from my coffee dates so far!
My next big coffee date is with our university president, Mr. Ron Thomas himself. Luckily, he’s always in Diversions Cafe every Monday morning, so I know exactly where to find him!
I leave you with the wise words of Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation,
“I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by friends… Friends I don’t know yet.”