So after having a conversation with a few of my girlfriends over lunch this past weekend I realized that I’m a little weird. I’m that person who enjoys meeting strangers without apprehension and traveling alone. They asked me about the recent traveling I’ve been doing, specifically my birthday trip to New York. They commended me for being brave enough to travel on my own but stated they were too scared to try it themselves. I explained that I enjoy going places where I know no one and traveling alone allows me to do this but I usually don’t remain alone. I end up meeting strangers and making connections along the way. Sounds a little reckless but the way my life is set up, I only go where I’m led so I know I’ll be protected wherever I go. I go without expectation except to be used somewhere along the way. I shared with them the story of the stranger I encountered on my recent birthday trip to New York. I’d like to share that story with you too as encouragement to step outside your comfort zone. You never know who you may meet and encourage if you strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. You may find out they they were never really a stranger to begin with, just a kindred spirit you hadn’t met yet.
My 26th birthday was this past February and I knew I wanted to celebrate this new season by taking a trip, I just wasn’t sure where I wanted to celebrate. I went down a list of cities I could’ve visited but there was only one that jumped out to me. So I decided to do something that I’ve never done before, take a trip to a city I’ve never been before, alone. I booked my flight, made hotel accommodations and planned a jampacked itinerary only a couple weeks in advance. I would only be there for the weekend so I wanted to fit in everything that I could. I packed my bags and patiently awaited my 26th birthday.
The morning of my birthday I left Dallas, Texas in route to New York, New York. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect I just knew I was going and by the time I got on the plane, there was no turning back. I arrived in New York a couple hours later, collected my baggage and boarded the shuttle to my hotel. There were several of us on the shuttle all stopping at various hotels along the route from La Guardia Airport to Times Square. As we got closer to Times Square, there were only two of us left on the shuttle, me and another young lady. The lady looked about my age and she was alone. After realizing that we were the only two left on the bus she asked me if I was staying in Times Square too. I answered her saying yes, and that it was my birthday and I decided to celebrate alone. She was surprised but also shared with me that she was alone too and who she had originally planned the trip with did not come. She said she was apprehensive about coming alone but decided to still come anyway. I found out she also traveled from Dallas that morning on a different carrier. She asked me if I had any plans and if we could exchange numbers so that we can grab lunch after she freshened up. Truth was I did kind of have plans and I’m usually a lowkey, selectively reserved person but I eagerly accepted her offer to connect. Although I didn’t know what for at that moment, I knew that it was meant for us to encounter each other.
I checked into the New York Marriott Marquis, unpacked, settled down and freshened up by the time Rosa called me and told me that she was ready to meet back up. Her hotel, the Crowne Plaza was just around the corner so we met outside in Times Square. It was just past noon and the both of us hadn’t eaten anything. I told her that I was a vegetarian but I was open to try something I’ve never had before. We decided on a Cuban restaurant within walking distance. We sat down for lunch and got deeper into what brought us to New York on this weekend. I shared with her that I was alone because I am currently going through a divorce and a season of new beginnings. She was shocked by my peace and joy about what should’ve been a difficult time. I told her that I was well on my journey through healing and I was past all those negative emotions and was now at forgiveness, compassion and understanding. I shared how my divorce story had now led me to New York. I was celebrating a second chance at love and life and although I wasn’t sure of what the future held, I knew that me traveling to New York would be a turning point for me. I came knowing that I had to be here, on this weekend and by myself.
Rosa told me that my story inspired her and that she had originally planned this trip with her boyfriend who broke up with her just before they were to take this trip together. She was still hurting from the break up and truly didn’t want to come but her parents and siblings encouraged her to come. I commended her for still coming and encouraged her that even though this was a break up, it was also a new beginning for her, a second chance at a love she deserves, and overall an opportunity to build herself up better than ever. I told her that I was on the same journey and shared with her some of the tools that has helped me stay encouraged. One of the tools that I shared with her was a list that I created with the qualities that I want and need in my soulmate. I shared with her that I purposely don’t date (see my second blog post “Love Again?” as to why) and that any potential prospects I encounter, I compare them to this list. In this list I have set the standard of what I deserve based on past experiences and relationships. Now this list is not overly unattainable, but simply a specific standard between me and God. I have written it out so that He can meet me at my desires and exceed my expectations. I didn’t write out this list until my husband and I separated and after writing it out I could only identify a few of these qualities that my husband possessed. That was monumental and eye opening to me and if I had done it before it probably could’ve saved me a lot of disappointment. It made me look at our parting with hope and expectancy for a chance at a love I desire and deserve. She was impressed and stated that she too will make a list. We continued our conversation over our meal and discovered that we actually had a lot of things in common. Not only did we both live in Dallas, we both had just lost 20 pounds and were still actively pursuing healthier versions of ourselves. We both had similar family dynamics and values that we were brought up on and we both had similar desires for our future. By the end of our lunch we had formed a bond of mutual understanding and a blossoming friendship.
After lunch, we set out for Times Square and the rest of our afternoon consisted of normal girly stuff, picture taking and shopping. We enjoyed each others company up until it was time for me to get ready for the rest of my evening. I planned to visit a popular underground poetry spot that night, something I always dreamed of experiencing by myself. Before we parted, we shared our Instagrams with each other, snapped a few pictures together, embraced and promised to keep in contact. I told her to not be surprised if I blogged about this encounter and that was the last time I saw her that weekend. I went back to my hotel smiling to myself thinking who makes friends with strangers!? Well, I do and I wasn’t done yet. That was only day one and the following morning I met another kindred spirit. That story I’ll share at another time, via another channel, and maybe when I have the courage to compose it. In other words, no time soon.
Moral of the story:
Don’t be afraid to do something you’ve never done before with someone you’ve never met before. If I didn’t go to New York on that weekend, I wouldn’t have met her. If she didn’t keep her plans despite her apprehensions, she wouldn’t have met me. Sure we can imagine we would’ve crossed paths in Dallas but the truth is we were in the right place at the right time and we both were open to the unknown. Because of this we connected. Think of all the encounters you missed out on. Think of all the encounters you still have the ability to partake in. Today I encourage you to change your pattern and to step out of your comfort zone. If you step out on the limb, you may be surprised there will be someone there to meet you on your journey.
- Strangers are not always dangerous
- You’ll never know unless you try
- It’s okay if things don’t go according to plan
- Make room for spontaneity