Today I went to one of my favourite cafés to get some work done. One of the baristas was on her break eating a snack and I decided to ask her to be my stranger of the day. She smiled and said sure. Her name is Nadia.
Something that drew me toward her was the fact that she was eating by herself, without headphones in, without her head bent over a phone screen, without a book in front of her. She was just sitting — seemingly content with her own thoughts as company. Something I’ve noticed while working on this 101 strangers project is that it is sometimes difficult to actually find anyone to talk to who looks like they are open and welcome to being approached. I was once hoping to find a stranger on the bus but every single person on the bus had their headphones in!
When she’s not working at the café, she’s usually in classes studying physical geography. In her free time, she loves practicing yoga and checking out new music.
Yesterday, Nadia went to a private concert at her friend’s place hosted by Sofar Sounds — a curator of “secret, intimate gigs in living rooms around the world. [They] spotlight amazing emerging artists, introducing them to new and passionate fans through a unique and magical concert experience.” So cool, right?! I just subscribed.
Her advice? Travel the world. She said that it’s a great way to find yourself and to learn about what it is that you really love. She especially recommended traveling when you’re unsure about yourself and your purpose. “A lot of first and second year students find themselves not loving what they’re studying, but instead of taking a break to figure it out, they keep studying what they don’t love.” Then she tried to give me an example. “I mean, who actually likes differential calculus?”, she asked, only to interrupt herself a second later and say “–actually, wait, I love differential calculus.”
Instead of following the common path, Nadia went traveling in the middle of her degree when she was unsure of the academic path she had chosen for herself. Now, because she loves what she’s studying, her approach to school has changed entirely. Whether you travel or take a break in some other way, taking time to pause and reflect every now and then is imperative in the pursuit of purposeful process and presence.
After she graduates, she hopes to work outdoors, potentially on landslide prevention. She loves learning about the natural environment and hopes to work toward protecting it.