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Introducing Myself To Strangers – IDC #15

April 10, 2012

This is an IDC Project guest post written by a good friend of ours, Chris Peek. Chris is a writer, blogger, and video producer and editor. He is also a photographer, outdoor enthusiast, and hiker. He is offering encouragement and principles for living intentionally and is helping others become fully alive. Connect with him on his blog, Trail Reflections, or follow him on Twitter. If you want to share your own IDC in your own IDC post, click here

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“The resistance would like you to curl up in a corner, avoid all threats, take no risks, and hide. It feels safe after all. The paradox is the more you hide, the riskier it is.” –Seth Godin

Normally, I have a hard time going up to strangers and introducing myself. I much prefer to be introduced. That’s the way I’m wired; it’s my “safe” zone.

Let me back up a bit and fill in a couple of major details. My wife Karen was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2008 that prevents her from living as active of a life as she once did when we were first married. In the past, I leaned on her be my “initiator” in new places far too often. Granted, I’m content to know a couple of people in public settings and to even sit alone if she’s unable to attend. That doesn’t bother me. Yet, my perceived inability to connect with new faces without her by my side has been a source of my own frustration.

Recently, a married couple about our age and whom I’ve seen several times happened to sit on my row at church. I’ve never spoken to them, so I decided, “what the heck. If I’m going challenge others to be intentional about life through my writing, then I have to act it out in my own life.” Ironically, our pastor’s sermon that particular Sunday was based on his series titled “Life Together.”

After the service, my lizard brain kicked into gear. “What are they going to think about you? What if they reject you?” After briefly hesitating for two seconds, I bucked the self-deprecation, stepped over, and introduced myself. Immediately, all my fears subsided, as their genuineness and friendliness quickly came to light. We spoke for about ten minutes, getting to know a bit of each other’s stories. They even invited me to their Bible study class. I took another chance and attended, meeting a couple of other new people as well.

Now, I choose to build zero expectations one way or another that anything will result from these interactions, but I realize that we never know where one connection will lead. Maybe I can help them in some way in the future. Maybe a friendship will develop. Maybe nothing more will result other than the fact that we all experienced a better day because our paths crossed.

More importantly, I did something WAY out of my comfort zone and lived to tell about it. I’m continuing to recognize that when a thought comes into my head and my lizard brain urges me to flee, I should usually just go ahead and turn the thought into action. Living an intentional life is never an easy route and often involves a regular dose of courage in order to overcome the resistance. It’s a choice that we must make again and again, made one step at a time within these small, everyday moments.

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To do your own IDC and share it in your own IDC post, click here.

Read more about the IDC Project.
View our completed “uncomfortable situations.”

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18 Comments

  • Reply Ann J Musico April 11, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Chris I strongly relate – I am more comfortable being introduced to new people as well – always have been. I have found the more I push myself out of that comfort zone and make the effort to intentionally connect with people I don’t know, the easier it has become! I congratulate you on your efforts – and I agree – maybe nothing comes of it but you never know!

    • Reply Chris Peek April 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

      Ann, thanks so much! It’s always reassuring to hear that others are struggling with similar fears. Sounds like you’ve challenged yourself in this area too, so I congratulate you on pushing through the fear! Our lives will have greater meaning and impact when we are intentional in these small moments.

  • Reply Joe Lalonde April 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Growing up I was a lot like you Chris. I was content to be a wallflower. That all changed after a rough breakup that had consumed a lot of my time. It was then that I made a decision to go out of my way and talk to other people.

    I found such joy and happiness as I approached new people and situations. New worlds opened up to me. I was no longer alone.

    I hope this experience will lead you to new friendships Chris! And I’ll be praying for you and your wife.

    • Reply Chris Peek April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Joe, great to connect with you and hear your story. Isn’t it fascinating how going out of our way and talking with people opens up opportunities that you never envisioned? I’m finding that more and more to be the case. We greatly appreciate the prayers!

  • Reply Claudia Good April 12, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Chris,
    I’ve been meaning to say, “Thanks for posting this!!”
    We love your story and what you are doing! You are insightful and proactive and you can’t go wrong with that combination 🙂
    Thanks again

    • Reply Chris Peek April 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Claudia, thank you for this opportunity and the encouragement. I’m thankful I’ve gotten to know both of you and can’t wait to see your successes on this journey.

  • Reply Michael Wright April 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Chris, I look forward to getting over to Trail Reflections and learning more about your story. I remember Dan Miller retelling a parable/story about events happening in life that are deemed “good” or “bad”. When something “bad” happens in life, there will be good things as well. My wife has many health struggles as well, which has pushed me to the edge at times in the last 12 years, BUT also developed me in ways that would not have been there otherwise. One of my favorite mantras is “Don’t Waste the Pain!”. If painful times come (as they do for all of us), use it to your advantage. Sometimes you’re growing when you don’t even realize it.

    Nice challenge here. All this stuff gets easier the more you do it, you know?

    • Reply Chris Peek April 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Michael, I love that thought – “Don’t waste the pain!” We can either quit living and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can use the pain to grow exponentially. I’m sorry to hear about your wife’s health issues, as I can definitely relate, but you’ve got the right approach in dealing with them. Look forward to seeing you over at Trail Reflections soon!

    • Reply Michael Good April 13, 2012 at 6:43 am

      Michael,
      Yeah, definitely check out Trail Reflections. Chris has a lot of great stuff over there and I really enjoy his writing.
      “Don’t Waste the Pain.” I like that idea!

  • Reply robclinton April 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Chris, excellent thoughts… I connect with your story well in reaching out of my comfort zone and sparking that conversation. I’m always still working on it, because small talk has never been a piece a cake for me… But what has helped and keeps making me better at crossing paths, is the mantra that reminds to be “genuinely interested in other people”…

    • Reply Chris Peek April 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Hey Rob, your mantra is ironic since I’m currently re-reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This is great advice for all of us to follow. What better way to learn about other people than to ask a new person a few questions to learn more about their story.

      • Reply Michael Good April 13, 2012 at 6:47 am

        Chris, asking good questions has really helped me when meeting new people. I enjoy it because I’m genuinely interested in the other person and they enjoy it because someone is taking the time to listen.

        • Reply Chris Peek April 13, 2012 at 7:26 am

          I’ve really tried to implement this idea as well, and it helps relax me in those uncomfortable moments of meeting someone. Hopefully I balance enough where I don’t come off as prying because I genuinely want to get to know individuals.

          • robclinton April 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

            It helps me relax as well, Chris… But I’m with you on the prying part. I get that concern sometimes, like I may appear to “in-their-bizzness”, but hey I think with practice it gets more comfortable….
            I remember growing up the common question in the neighborhood when I started asking questions, someone will pipe up and say, “what are you writing a book?” — As though that were a bad thing 🙂

          • Chris Peek April 19, 2012 at 7:28 am

            That’s pretty funny! If anyone asks, I’ll say that I’m taking notes for my future book. I did have a friend once say to me, “Enough about me. I feel like I’m being interviewed.” Up until that point, I had just been having a good time getting to know him better.

          • robclinton April 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

            It helps me relax as well, Chris… But I’m with you on the prying part. I get that concern sometimes, like I may appear to “in-their-bizzness”, but hey I think with practice it gets more comfortable….
            I remember growing up the common question in the neighborhood when I started asking questions, someone will pipe up and say, “what are you writing a book?” — As though that were a bad thing 🙂

      • Reply robclinton April 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        Yes, absolutely Chris! Great book, and I believe that book is where that Mantra soaked into my thinking.

      • Reply robclinton April 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        Yes, absolutely Chris! Great book, and I believe that book is where that Mantra soaked into my thinking.

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