Contact, acquaintance, go-between, messenger, network, relation, ally, associate, friend, mentor, sponsor. What do all of these words have in common? For starters, when used as a noun, they’re all synonyms for the word “connection” (thesaurus.com). Notice how the synonyms listed can go from something as surface as an “acquaintance” to something as deep as a “mentor”. Now ask yourself what the word “connection” means to you. How often do you use this word and when you do, what settings are you normally in?
I’ve pretty much heard that I “talk too much” my entire life. My 7th grade math teacher was the first person to use the expression “you’ve got the gift of gab” and my name in the same sentence. A gift? I thought to myself. That’s a good thing right? When I learned that I had mistaken his New Jersey sarcasm for a compliment, I shut down. It’s not that I didn’t understand what he meant. I shouldn’t be talking during class while he’s teaching. It’s rude to interrupt but I was curious about so many things, especially when it came to learning about people and their interests. So what types of personalities did I find myself gravitating towards at a young age?
I met my best friend Shelley in Chinese school when we were 8 years old. She sat in front of me and was super introverted. As a young adolescent I always loved to sit back and observe people, especially the quiet ones. Shelley was one of those people. She sat in front of me and was quiet as a mouse. I thought to myself that I want to be friends with her, so I talked to her whenever I had a chance to. Being that she sat in front of me, she had to turn her body entirely around to answer my questions. At first, the teacher thought it was her that was doing all the talking and she would without fail get yelled at every Sunday, until she figured out it wasn’t Shelley. It was me.
So where has the “gift of gab” led me to today? At the beginning of this post, I asked you to think about what the word “connection” means to you. How often do you use it and in what context. When I think about what it means to me, I think of friends, family, and all of the meaningful conversations I have collected over the course of my life to date.
Now that we live in a world that is so technology driven, the in person connection seems to happening less and less. I’ll be the first to admit that I am always on my phone when I’m not training. I immediately go to check my phone in-between breaks. I have FOMO which translates to “fear of missing out” if you’re wondering what that even means. I want to stay on top of trends and see what’s going on in people’s lives via Instagram and Facebook. I can only speak for myself when I say that my phone has been running my life. If I had had a phone in the 7th grade (damn you Zack Morris), would I have missed out on opportunities to interact with people because I’m constantly on my phone all the time? Would some of my dear friends not be in my life because I was too busy talking to someone via text to find the time to talk to them? I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be without Shelley in it but at the same time thanks Facebook for keeping us up-to-date with each other’s lives via pictures and posts! So where’s the compromise?
I noticed when I was traveling internationally for 3 weeks with limited wifi, how much more present and in the moment I was when I didn’t have access to the internet at my fingertips. What other observations did I make? The list can go on and on but here are a few key takeaways:
Put your phone away when you’re having a meal with someone. Don’t have it out on the table as you’ll get distracted hearing it go off and seeing notifications popping up on the screen. The person in front of you deserves your full attention and you don’t want to make them repeat what they said twice because you were glancing down at your phone to see if that hot guy or girl you saw on tinder swiped to the right too.
Text messages and emails drive me a bit mad. Having no knowledge of whether someone texted me back, who’s emailing me with questions, and what’s going on in other people’s lives left more time for me to focus on mine. How many times has someone texted you and you forgot to answer them back because you were in the middle of doing something. You even told yourself at the time, I’ll get back to them but never do and realize 5 days later. The pressure of answering texts and emails was off my shoulders because everyone knew I was traveling with limited access.
It’s good to get lost sometimes. Not having google maps or waze to help me navigate through Taiwan got me to think about looking at the map and figuring how to get from point A to point B (I am geographically challenged).
I listen to music A LOT. I didn’t realize how much I relied on music to pass the time until I had no access to Spotify and Pandora. I also just got a new phone so I didn’t have any of my purchased songs downloaded which meant I had to listen to the natural sounds of the subway and people talking all around me. My ability to hear was extremely heightened and it was kind of soothing to hear the sound of the train tracks gliding over the railings.
I need my instincts more than my phone aka you can’t google everything for answers. My Taiwanese is mostly on point but my Mandarin is horrible and that’s pretty much the main dialect spoken in Taiwan. Without having my phone to help me, I had to ask the people around me for help. Look at my surroundings to figure out what looked familiar. I was able to navigate through the subway and remember how to get back to my cousin’s place without any issues. Oh and not to mention my Mandarin improved because I was forced to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people.
Whatever your connection agenda is,you call the shots. Just remember that you don’t always have to pull the trigger because some moments aren't worth the chance of possibly missing.
Hugs and health,