Today I had lunch with a bunch of strangers.
I've been job shadowing a PA and a pediatrician at a local clinic and today was first time I didn't drive the four minutes to go home for lunch. Armed with a microwavable sweet and sour chicken food item, an apple, and a mediocre book opened for the first time this morning, I walked into the break room prepared to nervously ignore and be ignored.
But that's not what happened.
My lunch hour was seasoned with conversation! With the whole table!
I didn't feel awkward or out of place. I didn't feel judged. I was just me. Eating lunch with a group of people who were also eating lunch.
I didn't even crack the book.
Afterward, as I waited for the doctors to finish paperwork and for a new patient to be prepped, I had an epiphany of sorts:
Everyone is your friend if that's how you treat them.
All my life I have admired those who get along easily with others. They seem to know a secret that I could never quite grasp.
Today helped me see for the first time that I've been approaching other people with an almost alien attitude. Upon meeting someone for the first time I generally worry about whether or not I am memorable or I am funny or I will be liked.
I focus on me.
My need to be recognized and appreciated.
My need to know that I am not forgettable.
My need to be liked and wanted.
This is so wrong.
The trick to gaining friends is to forget about the "me" and treat everyone as a valued friend already. There is no waiting period to see if you have enough in common to be friends. It isn't necessary. There is no limit to the number of people you can care about. Hearts expand to love more; there is no finite supply of love allotted to one person. Love is infinite. There is no such thing as a bad first impression when every new person is treated as a new best friend. Everyone appreciates feeling like the best thing since sliced bread.
Guess what? Practice makes perfect.
Do I know you?
You seem somehow. . . pleasantly familiar. . .