My cousin and I left Hong Kong a few hours ago and I am writing this post on our plane to Helsinki from where we will be flying back to Germany. Although I absolutely love traveling and exploring new places, the actual act of getting from A to B is usually time-consuming, annoying, and filled with carrying lots of heavy stuff you already regret bringing. Somehow, our travel yesterday was none of that. We managed to get on a complimentary shuttle bus to an in-town check-in place (yes, you can actually check in before taking the Airport Express from the city to the airport!) and got rid of all our heavy luggage at that point. Then we hopped on the bus and explored the airport a little. We eventually ended up in a western restaurant and we still had around 6 hours to go until our flight would take off - yes, timing is not our strong suit. So we sat there for a few hours, ate food which was actually really good (not just by airport standards but also by normal standards) and at some point, our waiter started talking to us.
I am a naturally shy person who is usually very reserved when meeting new people and I am almost never the person who starts a conversation or keeps it going. Luckily, my cousin is my polar opposite and before we knew it, we were in a lively discussion with the waiter. We left hours later with smiles on our faces and knowing that our waiter was an art student who gave up a business degree for art school and a protestor who stands up to the government against the extradition bill. We heard about his worst flight experiences and shared our own stories of babies who cried for ten hours or flights which could only be described as non-ending turbulences. We drank so much water and tea in those hours that our skin is probably more hydrated than it has been in the past weeks and we even got free food on the house after having been at our table for a few hours.
After leaving, I thought a lot about how him starting a conversation with us changed our evening a lot and definitely made our time at the airport pass a lot quicker. And why we do not do that more often. I am the first person to put on my noise-cancelling headphones and hide behind them - I do not hear you, so I do not have to make conversation with you. I usually avoid sharing a table with other people in busy spaces because I know that they may try to make conversation. I am part of the problem. But this experience at the airport made me want to change that. You obviously do not need to have a chat with anyone you meet, but when you see people regularly or you are in the same space for hours, there is no harm in asking them how they are doing. You would be surprised how easily a conversation comes to life. And how much happiness it can bring.
So I am challenging myself to be more open to talking to people and to not always grab my noise-cancelling headphones when social interactions are coming for me. It is absolutely fine and important to take your time to yourself, but it is equally important to meet new people and talk to them. I hope that I will remember this once I am back at university and that I will put it to use. I decided to share this with all of you because I am sure that I am not the only one who hides behind headphones or a book to avoid conversations at times. There is nothing wrong with doing that sometimes, but it has become the norm for me over the past few years and it is sad that I know that I would never have known anything more about the waiter other than what his voice sounds like and that he was my waiter on that day if my extroverted cousin had not been with me that night. Maybe I would not even have known what his voice sounds like since I would have had my headphones on and I would probably have just read his lips.
If you guys would like to share your opinion on this topic with me, you are more than welcome to message me!
Lots of Love,
P.S.: The title picture of this article was taken by my friend Nico. He takes amazing pictures and you can check his work out on his Instagram account and it would mean a lot if you took a look at his new website!