I’ll admit, I used to use my cell phone as a sort of grown up security blanket. If I got to a restaurant before my friends, I’d sit and text and play on Instagram. If I was out at the bar not talking with anyone or waiting for a drink, you’d find me scrolling through Twitter. Standing in line to checkout at the grocery store? Yeah I was probably on my phone. But I’m proud to say that’s changed since I moved down to Charlotte. I’ve realized that when you’re sitting on your phone, it sends a message to the people around you that you’re really not interested in a conversation. Though you may be perfectly open to chatting with someone, if your eyeballs are glued to the screen, that conversation isn’t happening. When that’s the case, you’re going to feel isolated and disconnected.
Since I’m really focused on making new friends and developing connections here, I’ve become almost hyper-aware of making myself look available. I don’t mean desperate, I just mean open to talking with someone. It doesn’t matter whether I’m waiting in line for the bathroom or checking out at Target, I want people to know that I’m open to a conversation. Do I expect to meet all of my new friends that way? Probably not. But I know it doesn’t hurt to show people that you’re available and willing to chat. I’ve found that simply by keeping my phone in my pocket more, I’ve had far more random conversations at the bar, at a restaurant, and in line for one thing or another. While you may feel slightly awkward standing by yourself not talking to anyone, it makes it much more enticing for a person to come up and strike up a conversation with you.
When you’re in a new place, this sort of availability is key. Though you may not meet your new BFF or your soulmate that way, I do think it’s really important when it comes to developing connections and feeling more engaged in the world around you. Phones can make you socially isolated. Though you’re texting and Facebooking up a storm, you’re totally removed from your surroundings. Put the phone down (even just for a minute or two!) and it’s much easier to have a casual conversation that makes you feel as if you’re a part of something. If you’re in the market for new friends or are looking for some more connections in your area, try putting the phone down and take some time to notice the people around you.