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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

There are few resources on this earth that we have in abundance, yet we each have access to an infinite pool of love we can give to others. Likewise, we have infinite room for the love we receive from the people around us. One of the easiest and most rewarding ways to use this love we store is to walk around open to communicating with the many people around us.

Of course, for many of us, giving love to others may not come naturally, especially in a world where it becomes easy to be fearful. Yet specifically in this climate where there are a million reasons to expect the worst in people, it is vital to give people a reason to expect the best. So, whether you label yourself more introverted or have become closed off to the world due to the endless heartbreak we see on the news, slowly see if you can begin to access a place within yourself to connect with people.

For me, personally, there have been countless times I have been walking around and thought of the many things I would say to strangers if only I had the courage. Even when walking with friends, discussing how we admire something about one of the people around us is typical. Whether it’s how happy a couple looks together, how stylish someone is, or how cute a dog is, our internal or external dialogues often include compliments for the strangers around us. If we could overcome our fear, how incredible would it be to speak our minds and make the people around us feel good?

Although we are accustomed to keeping our heads down and our thoughts within, we can give so much joy to the people around us with a few words. While giving compliments is a fantastic way to spread love with our community, it is also meaningful to simply engage in conversation. There are so many wonderful people around us who we can so easily connect with. 

I’ve always been someone who will avoid talking to people at all costs. I enjoy my own presence along with the company of close friends, and I don’t push myself to extend my social bubble. Therefore, conversing with strangers used to sound like a nightmare to me. It was only when a friend shared with me that she will sometimes have “stranger compliment days” that my mindset started to change. She explained that she will go on with her day as usual, yet make the conscious effort to tell people when she admires something about them. Although this idea would usually sound off alarm bells in my head, as I listened to her talk about the connections she has made and how rewarding it feels, I became more adjusted to the idea.

I decided to do a bit of exposure therapy with myself and practice simply talking with strangers and giving them kind words when that’s truly how I felt. I started nice and easy, talking with an older gentleman in the airport about where he was heading. Upon learning I was from Canada, he eagerly showed me photos of his trip to Niagara Falls and told me about his upcoming trip to Scotland, where he works with soldiers suffering from PTSD. He even gave me his email address so that he could send me some articles he’s published in the past. This interaction made me feel immensely excited about the new possibilities that would enter my life if only I got out of my head and opened myself up to spontaneous connection. Onwards, I continued this ‘exposure therapy’ throughout the week, complimenting earrings and clothing, and even asking a mom and her son in the bookstore if they had any recommendations. They eagerly handed me The Secret History and gushed over how it was one of their favourite books in the world.

Although this is something relatively new I’m implementing into my life, I can already see how meaningful it can be. People’s faces light up when you compliment them or simply share a few words. Humans have a lot to share with each other, and we can start rebuilding connection, one conversation at a time.

Leah Pearl

Queen's U '24

Leah is a third year student at Queens U majoring in Religious Studies.