CALGARY (CityNews) – Going up to a complete stranger and striking up a conversation has never been the easiest thing to do. And the pandemic has made it even trickier.
But author Tony Esteves wants to change all that.
He recently released a book called “Talk 2 More People.” It encourages us to push ourselves to make connections with strangers.
Esteves wants people to know that while it may feel challenging, meeting others can be safe, simple and worth it – if we simply look up from our phones.
“Your time in line getting groceries or coffee might be better spent looking up and around you and daring to possibly engage with the person around instead of checking emails or social media,” said Esteves. “Those interactions can lead to wonderful, wild adventures.
“If restrictions allow you to go out and get your groceries, then you can meet people.”
With the pandemic forcing society to re-think how it interacts, Esteves was not sure how the book and its teachings would be received.
“When the pandemic hit, I was terrified. I was like, ‘no, I’ve just written a book on how to connect with people and no one’s going to buy it now,’” he said. “But I’m thrilled with the timing after all.”
In 2016, Esteves challenged himself to meet a new person every day. He met 550 people that year. He says it helped him overcome depression and anxiety.
Jessica Painter, the founder of In Her Circle in Calgary, a group connecting women and creating community, says the pandemic is teaching us just how important connections can be.
“Humans, we need that community,” said Painter. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. We were created to be in connection with one another.
“We were all given the opportunity to reflect and see what areas we were missing in our lives because we weren’t able to be go go go, busy busy. And what the majority of people have realized is that we need other people. We need community to be our best selves.”
Studies have shown that isolation and loneliness brought on by the pandemic are the main reasons mental health is declining.
But that’s why Esteves says interacting – instead of allowing our current social barriers to become too comfortable – is imperative.
“If we lose that sense of connection and fully become isolated individuals, we are going to lose an important part of our humanity and the costs to that are immeasurable, really,” he said.