People Person

I’ve seen this question float around from time to time: “If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?”

It’s a good question, definitely would spur a decent conversation. Good icebreaker if you’re ever getting to know someone. But you know what never gets asked?

Where would you go to eat?

There’s a good reason that doesn’t get asked – it doesn’t matter at all. If you suddenly had the opportunity to eat dinner with Ralph Waldo Emerson or Frederick Douglass or some other amazing individual, who cares where you’re eating? If the person you’d pick suggested a restaurant you dislike, would you turn them down? Of course not.

The point is that our connections to the people around us, the people we choose to connect with, are paramount. All emotion – love, hate, grief, joy – all of it stems from connection. If you’re closed off to someone or something, that thing has no ability to inspire any great feeling in you. In order for something to affect you, you must first choose to allow it a connection with you. For good or ill, that connection is very difficult to moderate; you can’t give something the power to cause you joy without also allowing it the power to cause you sorrow.

And so with people, who you choose to give that power to is of vital importance. People will affect you, they will inspire you, they will complement you, and they will support you. The right people in your life will make all the difference.

So when you’re making a decision, look for the people that decision affects, and which of those people will become closer or farther away from you as a result. Choosing jobs? Look at who you’d work with, not what you’d do. Choosing schools? Look at who teaches, not what the major is. Choosing cities? Look at your potential neighbors and value them more than you think you should.

Be a people person.

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