While sitting outside eating Chipotle for lunch, I couldn’t help but stare at the buildings and people walking in my vicinity. While there were countless commuters and tourists strolling near my table, I still felt alone and unsure of my place in the sea of people around me. It then dawned on me that even if you’re lucky enough to be somewhere exciting and interesting, it’s the people you meet in that place that make it feel like home. If you are traveling around and not interacting with the people you meet along the way, a fifteen-minute lunch break can feel much longer and drawn-out. In the long run, if you are not comfortable and well-adjusted around the people who live in a place, you cannot ever truly see it as a someplace you belong. Acknowledging the value of the environment you settle in, even if you’re only passing through, can only improve your ties by strengthening the roots that hold you to a particular place. If you find your sense of footing in a new place, it is important to cherish it and make it even more your own through placing yourself directly in the action.
When you move or travel to somewhere new, one of the biggest challenges you encounter is balancing what you know from word-of-mouth about the place and what is actually accurate about the people who live there. You create your own experiences through a lens of what you think will happen versus the true reality of the situation. Despite how much you might try to run from the emotions that you have as you encounter new things, there will always be an equivalent of people coming into your life and shaking up your world. Even if your mood is low and you don’t want to be somewhere, there are still people around you having an experience that you are apart of just by being there. You are always in the thick of something, no matter how much you try to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. One of the best ways to appreciate the people around you is to try and go with the flow of any situation you encounter. If you are invited out to lunch by co-workers you do not know well, go along with it. Try and view each interaction as a way toward making your current environment feel more like home. If you will yourself to relax and be comfortable where you are, a whole new set of opportunities are opened up to you due to your new-found sense of confidence!
One general statement that I have always heard in my life is that humans are social animals. While I mostly agree with that statement, there are distinct differences between people who seek out social interaction and people who are content being by themselves. While the former are called extroverts, the latter garner the label of introverts. Personally, I find myself to be a strong mix of both personalities, since I tend to go stir crazy when by myself for too long, but also have moments where I am okay with silence and solitude. Often in social settings, both types of people are intermingled, which creates a variety of interaction styles that can be challenging for some. However, if you make a concerted effort to go beyond your comfort zone and create your own “sense of place” somewhere new, the moments where you might have felt awkward turn into great memories associated with that location. Sometimes it takes the compromising of social fears to make the environment become your own and for you to truly feel like you fit in somewhere. By breaking down your internal barriers and getting to the core of the situation, you will be able to excel in any location that you choose to go!
While walking back to the office after lunch, I stopped for a second to look up at the sky and think about what my current “homes” mean to me. As I looked back on the people I have met over my time, there are a few places that stand out as having my heart, as well as my “true self.” The more you exert control over your life and make wherever you find yourself your “home,” you will truly feel adaptable and comfortable wherever your life takes you. Take a concentrated look at where you are and create the life you want for yourself by smashing through social barriers!