Being on the road, we meet a lot of new and interesting people from all over the world and have precious little time to get to know them, perhaps only the one day or evening to form a friendship. I am, and perhaps you are too, a little shy and often stumped for something to talk about. My culture is prone to be a bit distant and untrusting of new people and so I have always been hesitant to ask anything probing or personal and seem forward and nosy.
So I have been searching, and my favorite advice for getting someone to like you is to be interested in them rather than talking about yourself (thanks to a post by Married with Luggage). That takes the pressure off me to talk and makes the subject something interesting for both of us. I also found a great article from Ash Ambirge at The Middle Finger Project called Your Life In Six Words. As part of a survey of her clients, she asked a series of questions. I am including them here, as well as a small sample of the inspiring answers left by her readers. (For the complete list of answers, read Ash’ article) I think these kinds of questions way trump “where are you from” and “what do you do,” don’t you? And they open up all kinds of possibilities for keeping the convo going beyond small talk about the weather and whether you like this city.
This first one is interesting and fun – quick, six words for your life story! Kind of like a Haiku. What would yours be? Tell me in the comments!
In response to being asked to write a 6-word memoir summing up their lives:
- Her beautiful mind kept her distant.
- Took risks, found passion, followed dream.
- I am still figuring shit out.
- Took leap of faith, landed spectacularly.
- Soul searching sentimental crazypants. Dreams big.
- Wind in her hair, world’s her playground.
In response to what advice they’d give their future children:
- When you feel safe somewhere, stretch your limits a bit, be a little wild. Then go somewhere new.
- Love deeply. Laugh often. Find something you love to do. Be conscious. Give back. Send money.
- Be brave, have heart, do what you love, fuck conventional wisdom.
In response to what one of their greatest unfulfilled dreams is:
- Tour the world singing jazz.
- Have a month-long sabbatical in Thailand.
- Be able to financially support my mother. She was never a mother to me but it isn’t because she didn’t want to be. Her own tormented childhood led her to be eternally 9 years old & she still makes decisions as a child would. Her soul is (ultimately) kind and I want nothing more than to be able to give her a home but most importantly, the peace she’s never been able to give herself. Wow that was intense. But honest. I’m not a fan of phony small talk.
In response to being asked what they believe with all their heart:
- The world is a beautiful place and all people are basically good.
- Mistakes are OK, but mediocrity isn’t. Failure to innovate is a death sentence.
- Life’s too short to do work you hate and art can teach a soul how to sing.
In response to a cause they’re really passionate about:
- Clean water for 3rd world countries.
- Creating a safe, accepting and compassionate world for LGBT youth.
- Animal cruelty and domestic violence. I REALLY wish those two things just didn’t exist.
In response to something they’re most proud of:
- My three year old daughter. She is so intelligent and bright.
- Co-writing my uni’s plan to lower carbon emissions.
- My motorcycle adventures. Vancouver CA to the beaches of Cabo San Lucas.
In response to something they wonder if:
- My parents will ever move out of South Dakota and into civilization like I did.
- I should have gotten married at 22.
- I should just pack it in, move to somewhere with a beach that never gets cold, and just be a bartender and swim in the ocean for the rest of my life.