Why I think I should talk to strangers on airplanes

Let’s be honest, I absolutely hate talking to strangers. It pains me, makes me nervous, and when meeting someone new all my confidence seems to go out the freaking window. I have never been good at talking to and meeting new people, coming up with claims that I am an introvert, or I’m shy. While I might be shy (who knows), I know I’m definitely not an introvert. I love people, and honestly struggle hanging out by myself sometimes. Now let’s not get crazy and think that I love crowds, because I don’t, but I know for sure that I’m not an introvert. I love hanging out with people, my people, and doing absolutely nothing or everything. I’m a person that believes that the right people can always make an experience better, whatever that experience may be. So as much as I love to say I hate people, I don’t, there are just some loud spoken individuals that I’m not so fond of.

I envy my father. While he can be one of the most awkward people I know, he goes for it, full throttle. If he’s sitting next to a stranger, he’s talking to them, whether they want to or not. He talks and talks and talks, about his job, his hobbies, the weather, and our dogs. He asks questions and genuinely listens to the people he will never see again in his life. And while the rest of my family is face palming at the situation that would be incredibly uncomfortable for the rest of us, he’s as happy as a clam. I don’t know if he’s crazy or what, but my dad can literally talk to anyone, with no apparent sweat marks to be found.

So back to the title. I recently was on some flights after leaving my fiancé at his job in Florida. Sad, but not the point of this post. On those flights, I was “lucky” enough to have the middle seat in both situations. Being crammed in between two strangers isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I bet they weren’t fond of the situation either. My first flight was incredibly awkward. Both people seemed nice enough, but they made it clear that they weren’t there to chat, and I sat there thinking that they were total assholes (which they probably weren’t), and decided that I would see for myself on the next flight if it was true that window seat and aisle seat travelers were jerks towards us middle seat people. There I was on my next flight, scared and sweaty. Both people on either side smiled kindly at me when they sat down, but no words were exchanged. It was time to put on my big girl pants and start talking. And when I did, I learned that the people on either side of me were super nice. One was a dad traveling home from a business trip that was SO excited to go home to his daughters at home, while the other was a woman traveling for a business meeting, and was nervous about driving on winter roads. While our conversations didn’t last the entire flight, they didn’t need to. After getting to know these people a little bit, I was immediately more comfortable, and incredibly less sweaty.

When I talked to these strangers, I learned that even though the world we live in is seriously messed up right now, the people in it aren’t necessarily as bad. I’m sure there are jerks out there, and I’m bound to run into them, but I want to start talking to strangers more often. And I think airplanes are one of the best places to do it. They can’t run away from you, and if you’re a decent human being, they won’t be rude to you because then they have to deal with you the rest of the flight. Talking to strangers on this experience made me a little bit more hopeful after a month that was exhausting and seemed endless, and I think it made me a little bit braver in the process. So yeah, even though strangers terrify me, I think I’m going to start talking to strangers on airplanes more. And who knows, maybe I’ll take a leap and start talking to strangers that aren’t trapped next to me too.

And while doing so I’ll be sweating like crazy.

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