I have lost my momentum for talking to random people. I was doing it everyday for a while. And it was great. Talking to kids my age is really easy because I don't worry as much that I might be wasting their time or bothering them. Maybe because I'm more used to interacting with kids my age, and I know it really doesn't matter.

Initially I was really scared to talk to random adults on their way to work, but I worked my way up to it, and eventually was basically able to talk to anybody. It's also easier to talk to anybody when you have the excuse of shooting a documentary – you have a reason to engage with them. Going in with a clear intention is so important. People don't want to waste their time. They don't want to be confused. Making a stranger waste their time for no reason might make them uncomfortable or upset. So I think it's good to open with a good, clear intention. "Hey, I'm shooting a documentary" works, but gets rejected a lot because people don't think they have time for it or they're afraid that the footage will make them look bad in some way. Interestingly, just asking someone "how is it going", or something adjacent, in which my intention is only just to interact with them, feels inherently awkward. It's awkward for me and it's probably awkward for them. I'm not sure why...

Why is having the intention of just connecting with a random person so awkward? Well, what does it mean for an interaction to be awkward? I think awkward results from not being on the same page. Having different intentions. So I guess it feels awkward for me because I'm scared that my intention of connecting with this random person won't be reciprocated. But that feels like sort of a mindset thing – I mean, if I don't expect that this random person will be interested in talking to me, the awkwardness on my behalf should not exist. Easier said than done, but I think if I go into interactions intending to connect with a person, but with no expectation that the other person will reciprocate, it should alleviate the awkwardness, as well as take some pressure off.

A sort of related idea is that I feel like I expect and want other people to understand me. What makes it so hard for me to act sometimes – even something as simple as eating jellybeans in public – is that I really want my action to feel right. Feel right meaning feel understood. But I think if you live your life trying to be understood by others, you might as well do nothing. Because people will always find a problem with what you do. So ultimately, it does come down to you to accept and understand your actions. So I think: as long as I understand me, my actions – no matter how weird or incomprehensible they are to others – then fuck it.

I think it leads to a happier, more relaxed, more spontaneous life when you live with acceptance of yourself, not relying on external validation to sustain you. Not to say you should shut out everybody else entirely, but I think at the core, you (I) should aim to just be okay with myself and leave it at that.


Mind Straw #12: July Twenty Five 2023