Well I did it. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. Some people are itching to jump off cliffs or eat alligator for dinner, but I am not one of them. For me, Dinner for 12 Strangers was a pleasant push. I think it’s a decent challenge, too. You are shuttled off to an unknown destination, with an unknown host, unknown food (perhaps the scariest part?), and unknown people. Now I know that may sound exciting, and I’m sure that many times it is, but I was a little skeptical. What if I was carted off to a house that couldn’t be found (which did actually happen), only to sit in a room full of awkward conversation topics and cold spaghetti?
It could happen…but it didn’t. Just like with most things, it was an experience that I’m glad that I tried. The food and the location didn’t matter; it was the people that made the night meaningful. I met students from all walks of life in a matter of hours and it was nice to be amongst such an eclectic mix of excellence. I met a professional dancer, a Dance Marathon Committee Member, an SAA Representative, a Resident’s Assistant, a hopeful Freshman, a senior that was about to volunteer internationally, and a Bruin Belle helping the community one day at a time. And I met amazing alumni; a lawyer who studied at not only UCLA, but also Stanford and Harvard, and a Russian student who not only wrote for the Daily Bruin, but who now works for an accounting firm.
It was an inspirational evening amongst Bruins. Of course there were the awkward around-the-circle questions like “What’s your major?” and “What year are you?” but even the best of friends have had to ask this information before. You have to start somewhere. I’m so glad that the 12 of us mustered the courage to get into a stranger’s car, drive to a stranger’s house, and meet 11 other strangers who were just as new to the situation as I was.
Now I have to admit, I was a little nervous that the meeting would turn into a resume presentation of who’s met who, who’s raised how much, and who’s been where. And while I won’t deny that there was some personal publicizing (it is UCLA; the students here have amazing accomplishments undoubtedly), we had very real and fun conversations. We talked about everything from celebrity sightings around Westwood to study abroad experiences. I have a whole new found passion for trying to new things on campus after hearing about people’s real life experiences.
I encourage you to step aside of your comfort zone; whether that’s skiing a black diamond, scuba diving in the Caribbean, or just showing up for dinner. It takes one risk at a time for us to build up our confidence. I’m glad that I took a risk last night to give up one evening to gain 12 new friends. Facebook here I come.