The People You Meet

A big part of my journey on my gap year was the encounters I had with people along the way. One of the greatest interactions I had along my journey was in Milan. I had just arrived at my hostel and I wasn’t very familiar with the area and seeing as it was dark out, I decided to hang out in the outdoors common area. If I’m being honest, I’ve never been very talkative and I often struggle with social anxiety, especially after the pandemic, which can make it difficult for me to speak to others even if I want to. Thus, I wasn’t intending on engaging with others, simply observing. Despite this, it was my interaction with the girl beside me that really forced me to change. Within seconds of her sitting down, she sparked a conversation with the people across the patio. By the end of the hour, she had made friends with nearly everyone that been hanging outside and brought them all together into one large group. Everyone was talking to her and she talked to everyone. All these people who had been interacting separately were now newfound friends. Her genuine interest in what others had to say meant they responded back with warmth and kinship. I only knew her for a day, but she spoke to me like we had known each other for years. Although it was a simple interaction that most would probably not deem important, it forever changed me. It made me realize that I want to talk to people, I want to be social and make friends and get to know their unique life stories. That single conversation inspired me to put myself out of my comfort zone for the rest of my time in Italy and to take that lesson with me for the rest of my life.  

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