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One of the best ways to learn more about the world, and more importantly, to understand yourself, is to meet people. Travelling is similarly a great option, but meeting people has the added benefit of being more affordable. Surely, you don’t need to spend thousands of pesos to go out, right? The only cost, is quite possibly, your shyness. Introversion will prevent you from taking advantage of the exemplary benefits meeting people offers. If you cannot spend on airfare, you can certainly go out of your way, and out of your shell, to get acquainted with strangers.

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

My work finds me meeting people. It’s not an easy task for someone so used to the comforts of his shell, who so easily buttresses his defenses with complications and contradictions. It’s not the desk job I’ve always been confined to, where the only real relationship I had was with my computer. Now, I have to go out and meet people, talk to them, listen to them, overcome awkward introductions and the occasional, intangible tension. I am meeting all kinds of people: good people, people pretending to be good people, obnoxious thirty-year old women, ultra professional middle-aged family men, blue collar workers, print shop clerks, receptionists, accountants, teenagers, and soon-to-be geriatrics.

There’s no escape the sometimes nasty entanglement when meeting new people: some talk too much, others talk too little. Many are unfeeling in their ways it can be off-putting. There are men who are too smart I can’t catch up. There are men who enjoy interjecting a cuss every two or three words when talking. Some women can’t help but be frivolous, and gossip during discussions. Others deliberately obfuscate their personalities. Most are plain intimidating.

But when you meet people, you’re exposed to their mannerisms, their perspectives, their stories and their philosophies. You are better able to compare your world view with theirs. Sometimes your perspectives turn out to be quite limited. In other occasions, you become more certain about what you want in life just by getting acquainted with a person. These profound epiphanies can come out from an awful meeting, or could be an inspired moment with a person you least expect would offer you such jolts of inspiration. I know of friends who decided to become doctors after joining outreach programs to city slums, and classmates who pursued a number of social awareness causes after being inspired by trips to drug rehabilitation centers, orphanages, and homes for the aged.

It’s almost as if a part of you is in a part of someone else, and the more someone else’s you rub elbows with, you talk to, or you disagree with, the more that part of yours is clarified, defined, and ascertained. I can’t quite pinpoint how, but the learning curve becomes shorter when you meet people who allow you to feel you don’t know as much as you thought you did. To me, it is evidently disconcerting when someone appears to know you better than yourself. But the discomfort is almost necessary to rediscover slithers of your being you never knew were hidden inside.

What I want to say is, meet people. Go out there and unknot your tongues. Let them shine on a part of you, you never knew existed. Don’t aim to meet only good people. Simply aim to meet. Good, bad, average, exceptional, cordial and unpleasant – they all have a story to share, and you might be surprised to know there is so much to life than the things you are presently worrying about. Meeting people will allow you to better gauge your place on this world, and in my case, will encourage you to strive for individual betterment.