There’s just so much to relate to in Tiny Buddha Productions’ first short film (about 10 minutes long), All by Myselfie, which I encourage everyone to check out here.
The film is about a young woman who has just moved to Los Angeles, and finds herself struggling to connect with new friends, through a series of missed opportunities. As someone who has moved several times, this hit home, and offers a very accurate cautionary tale about ‘missed opportunities’.
I wanted to briefly touch on this theme because of its relevance in an ever-connected world. For many of us, the screen is our primary means of connection and contact with the outside world. We text friends, we like items on Facebook as a declaration of ‘Hey, I’m alive and I like this!’…but we sometimes place greater emphasis on this, than on picking up the phone to make a call, or meeting with a friend face to face.
We’ve sacrificed connection and quality for convenience and quantity.
And I wonder if this has had an adverse effect when it comes to our ability to forge new connections. After all, when you’re so accustomed to reinforcing the connections you already have online, new connections in person can seem daunting. And it seems like more and more people are struggling with anxiety, often in a social setting.
I’ve been there, the protagonist in the film has, and I’m sure many of you have as well. We see a person we want to connect with – but don’t. Why? Here are just some of the thoughts that bounce around in our minds, feeding into our anxiety:
- They look busy.
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if we run out of things to say?
- What if they think I’m a creep?
- I don’t want to intrude.
In a mixed attempt at being courteous, afraid, or shy, all at once, we often refrain from making the connection. And then we’re left with a kind of relentless regret (some of us who are harder on ourselves anyway). Over time, more and more connections are missed and we all lose out on the opportunity to create new and meaningful connections with the people around us.
Having experienced that regret first hand several years ago, I vowed to fight back against all those thoughts, replacing them with other ones. Here’s what I mean: take each of the above thoughts, and push back.
They look busy/I don’t want to intrude – I can always ask if they have time to chat just to be sure. And if they look distracted, just wish them well and be on your way.
What if they don’t like me?/What if they think I’m a creep? – What if they do like you? What if you get along wonderfully? You won’t know until you try. Most people are generally polite anyway, even if they don’t like you.
What if we run out of things to say? – Awkward silences, the big boss of social anxiety (at least it is for me). Silence has been something that I’ve had to grow accustomed to. We often try to fill silence with small talk just to keep the conversation going. But it’s not a bad idea to let the silence linger just a moment. Odds are, the other party (who likely also hates silence) will say something. But beyond this, the best way to combat running out of things to say is to ask open ended questions and show genuine interest. Don’t ask simple questions that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Ask about their thoughts, their hopes, their dreams, their favourite ________, and WHY. Be curious!
As a general rule, and speaking from my own experience, we always exaggerate the worst that can happen. We amplify how horrible a silence can be, or how embarrassed we may become, or how rude a person may be in reply. We also downplay people’s desire to be civil and non-confrontational. I’ve found that as long as you’re civil and kind to people, they’ll likely be civil and kind back.
So what is the worst that can happen? You realize that a connection cannot be made, you part ways, and you never see each other again. Compare that with the lingering sense of regret that will follow you. Fear, like any other emotion, can be experienced and used in a positive way. It could be an excellent motivator. Try overcoming a fear of making a connection, with the fear of regret that could haunt you forever! In a strange and unexpected way, it worked very well for me.
And anyway, if they’re really a jerk, odds are you don’t want to connect with them anyway! That’s the most likely worst case scenario.
But what about the best case scenario? What if you find someone you connect with or make a new friend? Isn’t that worth the risk of awkward silences, or interrupting someone briefly with good intention? The potential long term gain is massive…but the short term loss (if any) is minimal!
Every single friendship likely started with a connection. Maybe it was a “Hello”, or a question. But these are the seeds that could lead to something truly wonderful.
Why be all by your selfie, when you can be all by your selfie…with friends?
“All By My Selfie” teaches us all of these things, and so much more. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s so human. It’s all of us. Check it out. You won’t regret it.