Coffee, couriers and smiles: How I stepped out of my bubble

Some of my first friends in DC were bike couriers. They met for coffee at Tryst, which was just down the street from my office... and has the best chai teas I've ever tasted. Monday through Friday I would see them. Since I was new in town I would smile… towards the sidewalk… and keep walking. Eventually I made the bold move to smile at them and was rewarded with “enjoy your day!” And then one day I did the unthinkable: I stepped out of my bubble and said, “Good morning!”

 What happened? Was I shunned, laughed at, or shamed? Nope. I received a hearty “cheers! Enjoy your day!” And then a few days later, an invitation to join them for coffee. The reward for getting out of my bubble: new friends (who became dear friends). After I changed jobs I would still join them for coffee on the weekends, and we would say hello to all the passers-by.

When I moved to Austin and started driving a car again, it was a little strange how it easy it was to slip back into my bubble. Once inside, I could cruise down the streets, pretend others weren’t sitting next to me, (in their own 4-door, power-locks, windows-up bubbles) and disengage from the world.

Photo cred goes to Courtney Blanchard. My first new pal in DC and one heck of a bike rider.  

Then I got a bike.

 

Suddenly, I was out of my bubble again. I interacted with people and treated them as such, instead of 4-wheeled strangers. On my bike I’m more inclined to look around, make eye contact, and smile. Even in the dead of summer, when I show up to my destination s.w.e.a.t.y. and so red in the face people are a little concerned, I love riding my bike.

Do you need to ride a bike to step out of your bubble? No. (But it sure is a fun way to get around.) It could be as simple as saying hello to one new person today, or leaving your phone in your bag or pocket when you go inside to order lunch. Try something different today; something that makes you just a little uncomfortable, and you may be surprised about what happens next.

So tell me, how are you stepping out of your bubble?