The Art of Getting to Know People

Every August, no matter what your profession may be, you really can’t negate that undeniable, unavoidable sense of beginning that makes its way into the air. The anticipation of fall slowly but surely closes in on us, the SUV’s chockfull with dorm-room drawers are filling up the highways, and we become a little more open to the idea of hot coffee. Just a little. Even the times of my life I find the change of seasons bringing very little actual change, I still catch myself smiling at the thought of something new.

It’s a beautiful thing; being open to the idea that something different could bring something good. It’s this unspoken acknowledgement of hope that we all just sort of agree on; and it’s rare. Rare, for humans to be excited about change when so often we resist it, unless it’s self-sought.

Somewhere around the end of September, when the humidity really starts to leave the building and the leaves begin to fall, our anticipation turns to readiness, and the general consensus is to plunge right in—head first.

That end of September, pumpkin-loving, willing enthusiasm is my general attitude in life. With experiences, with opportunities, with impulse-buying at Target; but mostly, with people. I’m the golden retriever of the bunch; super excited to know you and be all up in your face probably way before you’re ready for all that kind of closeness. Sometimes it’s gotten me into trouble, but it’s never really stopped me. I’m gratefully stuck in the eternal end of September disposition.

Getting to know people. We all have our ways, and I don’t claim to know a thing about them; but overall, what are we so scared of? I’m impatient with surface talk. The “How are you-good-how are you-fine-thanks.” mid-morning interchange. The “Oh, how many kids do you have?” or “Do you have siblings?” kind of thing.

Don’t get me wrong, those are totally legitimate questions very much worth asking. But after they’re answered, we’re so cautious, so timid, unnecessarily restrained to continue on. And why? Maybe for fear of being disrespectful or invading someone’s privacy—and I’m with you. It’s understandable. We’re all so terrified of being pigeonholed the infamous “creep.” But I’ll be honest with you, I want to know more.

I want to know how you are and why you’re that way. I want to know how many siblings you have and what they’re like. I want to hear about your morning and night, and get a sense of your story because what have we got to lose in the infant stages of getting to know someone? I want to take on the very innocent task of trying to understand you, really understand you, and analyze it with my best friend five hours later. I want to know people, and get people; because it’s only after all of that the friendship really begins to unfold. I want to get to the down and dirty, figuratively speaking, because that’s where the resilient, vulnerable beauty is kept. Why show up unless you have a willingness to engage?

I’m not saying we should get all Edward Snowden up in here and go around revealing information to the world, but it might be safe to say that a majority of the human population lies within the end of August category of plunging into the new. Almost there, but not quiiiiiite ready to carve the pumpkin. I get that, and I respect it. Hold onto the sound of cicadas as long as your heart desires.

All I’m saying is that there’s something to be said for blind interest—especially when it comes to getting to know someone. There’s nothing I love more than opening myself up to something new, to feeling connected to those around me, and full-speed ahead wrapping my arms around the change. People are really beautiful, and maybe if we took the time to get to know that, really know that, just a little bit more, our world would be a little less hateful.

Get out there and go love some people.

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