When Strangers Turn into Friends

Personal

Objective of the week: complete a 4 day intensive graduate course with incoming students I have never met.

This week, I was placed in a room with 21 strangers. Imagine looking out into a sea of faces that are already all so familiar with each other and just feeling isolated. That was me on Monday. I thought to myself, these aren’t my regular classmates, and I’ll barely ever see them again, so do I really need to talk to these people? Just get through the week and you’ll be fine.

Looking back at it, those were premature thoughts that just projected my own insecurities. I didn’t give anyone a chance and made judgement calls right away. I automatically thought that because I was a semester ahead of these people, I wouldn’t be making or maintaining any friendships.

The fact is, this past week has granted me the opportunity to meet so many kind and generous souls. Due to confidentiality, I cannot go into depth about what events unfolded, but what I can tell you is that each and every person in this class has allowed me to see the world in different ways.

I was able to see the world through different cultural, creative, and professional lenses. I was enticed to self-reflect and see where I, as a person, can improve myself. But most importantly, I was given the opportunity to really know people- not their likes and dislikes- but rather their most guarded selves. This act alone is very intimate and sacred.

Being able to hear and see people be so vulnerable with each other is a gift. It’s not something that comes easy or is just expected, but it is something to be cherished when it occurs. I know that for me, being vulnerable is very rare and only happens with those I feel comfortable with. So when someone was vulnerable with me, I always tried to thank them for their bravery.

Earlier this week, we had to take a test that would indicate our own personal strengths. Mine included:

  • Kindness & generosity
  • Honesty, authenticity, & genuineness
  • Humour & playfulness
  • Social intelligene
  • Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty

Each student was expected to grab a large sheet of people and write down these strengths. After doing so, we were told to go around the room and sign everyones sheet. There was no particular way to sign, meaning we could either write our names or even add a little message. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest. Of course I made friendships, but I did’t expect anyone to write anything for someone that wasn’t going to be in their future classes. I was beyond surprised at the beautiful heartfelt messages that were left on my paper. I have never felt more appreciative for a group of people in my life, besides my own cohort. After reading their messages I realized.. not only did I see their true nature, but they also saw mine.

At the end of the four days, it was actually really difficult to leave these kind hearts and my new found friendships. I exchanged numbers and socials with a lot of people. I found out that a few students also live near me, and we all made plans to stay in touch and get together at times. It was so nice to hear people say how much they would miss me, or how much they wished I was in their class permanently.

The moral of the story? Try not to have preconceived notions about something. Sometimes having a judgement can really mess up great opportunities and friendships that would otherwise not reach their full potential. I am so happy that I was able to break out of my old thoughts and embrace all of those around me. Go into things with an open mind and endless positivity. The world can be a great place if you just be receptive to the good things around you. I can gladly say that I have easily made some good friends for life.

Although that class finished yesterday, I have an 8 a.m. course to get to this lovely Saturday morning. And even though I miss the group of new students, I can’t wait to see my own cohort. It’s been almost a month since I saw them last because of the holiday break. For my group, it’s like people who were once strangers in a crowded room waiting for their professional life to start, have now become a family.

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