As we go into the year 2020, more people will be working as freelancers or entrepreneurs; in fact, 36% of the U.S. workforce freelanced in 2017! With this statistic comes the thought that more people will be working from home and cafes while sporting earbuds to block off any and all distractions, and I can’t help but think that this could disrupt human interaction, if we let it.
When you don’t have to go into an office every day and can get away with rocking PJs during a work-from-home session, it’s easy to not see or talk to anyone for days at a time, but that doesn’t mean the rise in freelancing and being your own boss should be viewed as a problem. That’s why in the year 2020, instead of being afraid of this constant workforce change and dependence on technology, we should embrace it while working harder at interacting with people more (in person).
Clinging on to technology has been the biggest of waves in the past decade that plans to stick around for even longer, which can take a toll on face-to-face contact. So with the arrival of a fresh new decade should come more focus on a somewhat lost art – speaking with people you admire and love in person. Sure we can communicate through social media (yes I do it a bunch too), but why not use that as an advantage this year and plan to meet a poet you want to learn even more from, or a therapist who unknowingly encouraged you to try out therapy yourself?
I’ve found that when I meet someone I’ve admired in person, it shakes up my day in the most positive of ways. From meeting a photo-journalist of the same age, years ago at a conference for college women, to connecting with a YouTuber and businesswoman during one of her New York City meetups, I was able to see that people in the “public eye” aren’t so inaccessible and they can be even nicer than imagined. I still stay in contact with the photo-journalist to this day because I continued to follow her journey through her photos and activism. Through that, I was able to attend a panel she spoke at on sustainability, a topic I adore. These types of moments remind me that connecting with others, especially strangers, can be daunting but can end up being rewarding at the end of it. Not only did I gain a new friend, but I am able to constantly learn from her as well.
Letting go of a potential barrier, whether it’s technology or fear, can open you up to a stranger (with the potential to become a mentor), or it can help you reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with. People don’t have to be inaccessible as long as we don’t put an extra barricade around meeting them.
As a homebody and introvert myself, some days I have to really try hard to convince myself to catch up with a friend or go to a late night event to meet someone new. But as I get older, I keep being reminded that despite my shyness, I really value connecting with people and meeting new faces. Sure, it burns me out if I do it for multiple days consecutively, but in the moment it gives me a burst of energy and inspiration to work even harder at my own craft.
If you’re thinking about how you can spend this year connecting and reconnecting with other people, or why it’s important to do so, see some tips below.
Here are some ways you can connect with people this year:
1. Meet people at networking events
2. DM a fellow freelancer you admire to work out of a cafe together
3. Text a friend to meet for happy hour drinks
4. Meet creatives you’ve followed on social media at panels or meetups
Here are some reasons why it’s important to connect with others:
1. You learn something new about someone else, thus learning more about yourself
2. A new interaction can lead to more creativity
3. You can meet more like-minded people
4. The more people you meet, the more open-minded you can become
These are just a few ways to seamlessly add more interaction throughout what could be a mundane routine. When you shake up a routine, it can result in a creative burst of inspiration you didn’t know you needed. That routine could be speaking to the same friend group every week, or working out of the same space every day, but when you find that there are so many other people out there that have the same goals as you, or different outlooks on a topic you care deeply about, or that are the extra motivation you needed to start a new project, you’ll find yourself growing even more.
The year will bring struggles and excitement, maybe even loss, or a new moment of self discovery. Throughout all those different emotions and hurdles, it’s important to stay close to friends, partners, loved ones, and even strangers that can help carry you through it all. So take the start of this new decade in stride with a new friend or an old one.
Feature Image via Daniella Spector