For the majority of my life, I’ve socialized with a certain type of people. It’s due to how I was raised and the career path I eventually chose. I grew up in a smorgasbord of countries and cultures, eventually leading me to define myself as “international” and gravitate towards those with similar experiences. For example, I can easily interchange English and Mandarin when conversing with the majority of my friends. Or I can propose a debate on a current event or cultural dilemma and expect a plethora of responses and opinions, more often than not, offering me new insights.
After I moved to L.A., it became harder to make friends organically. First, I was at work all the time and I’m not the type of person to just go to bars or hangouts to meet new people. After I left my job, I ventured out of my house even less. Finally, I decided to reach out and make friends with a few people at my church. One of these people became my Life Group leader. One day, out of pure chance, he discovered I semi-blogged and was into social media and decided to take me under his wing to work on social media and content creation for the church where he and his brother are in charge of the creative team. Over the past few weeks, I’ve hung out in their office, shadowed them, and seen how they work. They are super creative people and do mostly graphic design and shoot/produce videos. My Life Group leader is also a singer in a band. It was a breath of fresh air to interact with creative people because their perspective is so different.
Last week when I was in San Francisco, I met up with an old friend who is currently working in Silicon Valley. We hadn’t spoken in 5 or 6 years and it was good to reconnect and talk. Being in the tech industry, he had very interesting opinions to offer when I talked about the overwhelming reliance humans have on technology. He also brought up interesting discussions and told me about non-profit tech initiatives that he was a part of.
Today, I suddenly realized that my world had been insular for far too long. I grew comfortable just socializing with people similar to me. It was safe. No one would find the things I talked about too mundane or weird. But I’m glad to venture into unfamiliar territory. It challenges me to constantly think and absorb new information. Sometimes it’s frightening, but I like the unfamiliarity. Every so often, I have to remind myself that I am an unfinished person. There are always new ideas, new challenges, new territory, new friends.