As much as I wanted to churn out some diva-inspired, drama-filled content for you, I sat down to write and this was the only thing on my mind. I’m currently at home in Atlanta right now on a remote week, and I can’t tell you how *good* it feels. So damn good it put the last couple weeks of travel into perspective. I have always felt that there’s nothing quite like the joy and warmth of spending time with people you love and have missed. Which led me to this article.
When people hear about my travel schedule and realize just how many nights a week I find myself in another city, falling asleep in a hotel bed alone, they often remark:
“Wow, that must be lonely.”
It certainly can be at times. But it doesn’t always have to be. So to kick off my series “Ask a Consultant”, I answer…
So I came to an odd, but fascinating realization about the nature of my human interactions.
It was my fourth week traveling on my current project. I was taking off my pumps as I sat on the tufted bench at the end of the bed, giggling to myself after a particularly funny conversation with Todd (my now favorite bellman). Giggling turned into laughter as I continually re-played the conversation which had ended only 2 minutes prior. My laugh surprised me, because what had been said wasn’t that funny. So why was I so torn up over that dumb joke?
As someone who overthinks everything, especially their emotions (go figure), I was momentarily obsessed and fascinated by my reaction. Then came the realization.
The vast majority of my human interactions outside of work were quite surface level. Uber drivers, cashiers, waitresses, security guards… the list goes on. I get people in small doses, and usually within the context of them being someone I may never see again. (Luckily, this changes being on a long term project.)
I laughed so hard at that joke because it was personal. There was some element of closeness and familiarity that I didn’t expect from someone I had never met, and it caught me off guard. It made me really happy.
It is easy to see myself as just as transient in the eyes of those on the other side of these interactions. I’m just the 26th hotel guest he’s talked to today. I’m just a passenger in this driver’s 15th ride of the day. And to some people, that’s all I am. But what I have found is that if I make any genuine attempt at connection- no matter how small- people are almost always willing to reciprocate.
People in the service industry in particular are so used to being treated as a means to an end. Take it from a girl who worked in restaurants for 3 years. I remember feeling drained by impersonal interaction after impersonal interaction. I wasn’t Victoria, I was the person that stood between them and the steak frites they came for. It can be depressing, and to no surprise, super lonely.
So how do you cope when most of the people you talk to don’t know you and may never see you again?
The short answer: Foster connection wherever possible.
How do I do it? I try and make everyone laugh. I’ll settle for a smile, but god damn do I try for that laugh.
I am constantly cracking jokes. Whether it be at 5:43 AM in the uber to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, or in my hotel room doorway at 8PM on a Tuesday with the guy who brought me room service. There is always something to laugh about. I personally like to catch people off guard and share something slightly vulnerable. I focus on what people can relate to- the common pleasures, anxieties, feelings, and situations- and bond over them. It brings so much more joy into my life.
You’d be surprised how different you feel when you make all of your interactions just slightly more personal. The effects increase tenfold when you do it with the people you do see regularly.
Introduce yourself to the turnstile attendant at your office. Greet them by name and smile at them. Tell people it’s nice to see them again. Because it is. And sometimes, those people are all I’ve got.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t travel 25 days a month and never experience loneliness. But you can choose to treat people around you like friends; you can choose to treat people with love- and I promise you will feel it in return.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, you can subscribe (and download my free workout routine) by clicking “The Road Warrior Workout” in the navigation menu at the top of the page.
Oh- and feel free to comment below what you’d like to see in the next installment of “Ask a Consultant”.