I started a project to spend an hour with 100 New People.
I have not been so excited about a personal project in… I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about a personal project actually!
I love meeting new people.
I love having conversations with new people. I am excited by connecting with a fabulous new person. I founded the Heroine Training Tea Parties to make space for meeting new people, and for those people to connect with each other.
But I also get pre-social anxiety.
I worry about meeting a new person up until the moment they arrive. Once we start talking I have a great time, especially in a 1:1 environment. This joy of connection is not about being an introvert or extrovert; it’s about being human.
Rob’s 10K Friends
When I heard about Rob’s 10K Friends, I got so excited. Rob Lawless started a project to spend an hour with 10,000 new people. I read through his entire blog in a day, and became so inspired by his openness, trust, and daring.
I love the container of the project: a full hour with one other person is enough time to have an in-depth conversation without eating up too much of the day.
I decided to start my own project, on a smaller scale. Making this a ‘project’ is a great, non-threatening way to approach people I want to hang out and spend more time with.
Rob and I were both going to be in LA, so I messaged him to meet up. He would be my first new friend.
Even though I was itching to get started right away, I’m so glad that I waited for Rob to open Chapter 1, because he set the stage for the project and imparted his wisdom upon me.
Here, have a peek:
CHAPTER 1 / RED KEDS & AUTHENTICITY
Rob is meeting 10K new friends. I was number 1679. I am meeting 100 new friends. He is number 1.
When I asked him if he gets nervous meeting new people, he said, ‘I don’t anymore because I know what’s on the other side of the hour: connection.’
The key to connection: red keds (or, an electric tangerine coat) so they know who you are. After that, Authenticity + Trust.
Rob, thank you for inspiring my project, and for giving me guidance and hope in it.
🎶 “Banana Pancakes” / Jack Johnson
HOW WE MET / I found out about Rob’s project on Instagram via Grace Gordon and messaged him to meet up.
I am documenting my #FriendsofXandra: 100 New People project on Facebook. If you know someone I should meet, please connect us :)
Before I started, I was most fixated on the logistics. What would the RULES be?
I take a photo with each person, and ask them to choose a song. I added the song because I knew I wanted to put my own spin on Rob’s project. As Rob and I walked in the direction of his next meetup, we chatted about how music is important to us, and how he’s focusing on learning guitar.
I write a little chapter remembering what was most memorable about the meetup. While Rob is a wizard at recounting each person’s life story, I am less chronological, focusing on the whimsical elements of connection that stayed with me afterwards.
Am I ever going to see these people again?
I have kept in touch with many of my New People, and have met up some of them again. And Julie (Chapter 9) borrowed some of my books, so I better see her again.
What about my existing friends?
Growing my personal community takes pressure off my existing friends to hang out with me all the time. I’m not relying on them to fill my Sims Social Bar.
Where do I find these people?
So far, I’ve mainly spent time with people I’d already met but hadn’t spent quality time with. This project is a great excuse to get to know them better.
I also asked my friends to introduce me to people I should meet.
(And if you’re reading this and want to meet up, or know someone I should meet, let me know!)
What if more than one person wants to meet at a time?
This was a big concern of mine, because the 1:1 part of the project appeals to me so much. I prefer to meet 1:1, but will make exceptions when it makes sense. For example, Chris (Chapter 5) and Alice (Chapter 6) invited me to their home in LA, so I allotted two hours to spend time with both of them (and their cat).
I’ve accepted also that sometimes I can meet new people and it doesn’t have to ‘count’. Steve and I have had a few neighbours over. Doing the project has made me more receptive – and excited! – to meet new people in general.
I remember a few years ago during a busy visit to Oxford, I was staying with a friend who suggested we do something together with one of her friend. I declined, because I was too tired. These days, I probably would have gone.
3 Things I’ve Learned from Meeting Rob and 10 Other New People:
1. Assume connection.
I have had a huge mindset shift towards people in general. Rob says that he has found connection with every single person he has met. That gives me so much hope. I used to worry a lot about the other person liking me or having a good time. When I approach my New Friends with trust in connection, I am no longer nervous about awkwardness.
2. Let there be pause.
Pause to process. I used to worry about the ticking clock, to fit everything into the space of an hour. Conversation and connection are still happening, even in pause. Sometimes especially in pause.
3. Ask questions.
No need for an index card of conversation topics or a go-to vault of ice breakers. If I don’t know what to say, I ask myself why. Often it’s because I’m confused. I challenge myself to ask for clarification. Sometimes I feel unintelligent asking for explanation of something I don’t understand, but I know that truly intelligent people are those who ask questions, who seek to further their knowledge.
And finally, a word about Hogwarts:
Going through my New friend chapters, I noticed that 6 friends revealed their Hogwarts houses to me: 2 Gryffindors, 2 Ravenclaws, and 2 Slytherins.
WHAT no Hufflepuffs? You’d think they’d be the most receptive to this type of thing! I posted on Facebook and all the Hufflepuffs came out of the woodwork. One new friend I’d already met was a Hufflepuff and just hadn’t shouted about it. Two more I’m planning to meet are also Hufflepuffs. [Meanwhile Shauna (Chapter 3) interrupted the thread with a string of snake emojis.]
Here’s what I find amazing: ALL witches and wizards are up for meeting new people. It’s not a personality thing. It’s a people thing.
P.S. If you have the opportunity to spend an hour with Rob, you definitely should! You can find him on Instagram.