Several years back, I spent a considerable amount of time fascinated with the question; What makes someone an “interesting person”? I guess it was just the time we were living in (around 2010- but it’s still true now). People had become exponentially more distracted by social media over the past half a decade. Every job posting had 200 applications. To get by in the world suddenly seemed to require the ability to get people’s attention. It suddenly did not feel like enough to just simply be competent and friendly. The most precious resource had suddenly become attention, and the amount of time one had to make an impression on people was ever shrinking.
So I took stock of the people in my life, the people I saw, the people I knew, and even people I had just heard about. I knew that there were some people I found interesting for some reason. I really tried to determine why that was. What was it about some people that made their names come up in conversation more frequently? I went through this quandary in my head about the delicate balance between being “too normal” and not having anything distinct about yourself and being “too weird” and not being able to relate to people.
In true extrovert fashion, I did not really figure out what it was about until I started asking other people about it. I asked my friends what people they found interesting and why. And, I realized what is true for me, as well as everybody else on this planet. Some people find me interesting, and some people don’t, the same way I find some people interesting and others not. I even realized that there are people in my life that I had not necessarily found interesting, but could see how they could be interesting to other, different kinds of people. I actually thought about those people that write those celebrity fashion blogs and report live from award shows. I seriously still can’t think of anything I care less about than who wins the Oscars. But, some people love it, and a lot of people love those blogs.
Nobody bores every single person they meet. Also, nobody captivates everyone they meet. But, some people do manage to find a way to relate to a larger proportion of the population than others. We all know that one person that is always talking about the same things, and doing the same things. And, when we get together with them we know it is going to be the same old same old.
Maybe all they do is work…
Or maybe they’ve got some cause they just won’t ever shut up about….
Or, they just really only have one interest. When that happens, well, you can only relate to people who happen to share that interest. When one cultivates a variety of interests, they are able to relate to a greater subset of the population. Not only are more people going to find them interesting, but they are going to find a way to show genuine interest in the lives of more people.
So, while I love to travel, I realize that it is not for everybody. The average American works 47 hours a week. And the average commute is approaching half an hour each way. Many spend much more than that standard five hours a week in their cars as it is. So, I completely understand why, for many people, the idea of hoping in a car Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, spending several hours in it, and doing the same on Sunday, just simply does not sound appealing. I will always find the allure of new places, different experiences, and different cultures worth the effort, but many want to find activities closer to home.
This does not mean they are not interesting people, and this does not mean that I cannot find them interesting. Last weekend, right here in Denver, I was able to attend three festivals; all within 4 miles of home.
At the Denver Brew Festival, with over 50 different participating breweries, and unlimited drinks for $35, one is pretty much guaranteed to be trying beer they have yet to try before.
At the Underground Music Showcase, countless people get exposed to bands, and even musical stylings that they have never been exposed to before.
And, it is hard to top a free concert downtown with Aloe Blacc and Capital Cities!
But one does not need to even go to crazy festivals to be interesting and open to new experiences. At the end of the weekend, I came to the realization that everything I had done this weekend, everything that seemed new and exciting, is something that I can really do whenever I want. And, I live in a medium-sized city, not New York.
If I want to try a new kind of beer, I can go to a microbrewery I have not been to. I think there is a new one opening up every weekend somewhere in Metro Denver.
Most cities have some sort of a local music scene, with local bands playing at a bar for a $5 or $10 cover. In fact, I have had some amazing nights out going to some of these shows!
And, nothing is stopping us from changing the radio station, finding a new channel on Pandora, or asking those around us to expose us to new music that is already out there.
Every day is the opportunity to experience something new. Taking advantage of more of these opportunities is no guarantee that the next time you meet an attractive stranger, a fun potential friend with an active social circle, or that person with the job opportunity of a lifetime, that that particular person will find you interesting. But, it does make the odds much more favorable.