I got into some intense, Eye-of-the-Tiger-worthy digging for some research evidence at the library today, and hit a bit of a wall. I went to the research help desk for some assistance and the woman working there was incredibly patient and helpful. Her name is Sheri, and she is my stranger of the day.
In just a few minutes, she was able to find what I had spent hours searching for. She’s brilliant.
After she helped me with my research, I asked her about what kind of research she does, assuming that she must be a researcher since she’s so good at it. It turns out that she just really likes helping other people with their research. This is aligned with the selflessness she exuded throughout our entire conversation.
She’s studying to become a librarian at the moment. Her classes ended not too long ago, so she decided to take a week off.
On her vacation from school and work, she spent time alone doing the things she loves: cooking, sewing, and reading. She’s energized by spending time alone and identifies as an introvert.
We talked about the introvert/extrovert (false) dichotomy and society’s glorification of the extrovert. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never read a blog about the 101 strangers someone didn’t meet. But she and I agreed that there’s tremendous value in introverted personalities, and that moments of solitude should not be shamed in the ways they often seem to be.
She doesn’t really like talking about herself, and I’m grateful that she took a step out of her comfort zone to allow me to get to know her better.
She didn’t really want to have her photo taken, which I whole-heartedly respect. I’m thankful that she gave me the time to get to know her.
So instead of a photo today, I’m posting a video as a reminder of how beautiful it is to spend time alone. It’s a stunningly poetic account of “how to be alone”:
So far, my 101 Strangers project has helped me channel both the extroverted and introverted sides of myself. I’ve been going to some events alone when I would otherwise go with others, and have at times felt more connected to both myself and other (really fascinating) people because of it.