With approximately 34,750 students enrolled at the University of Missouri, I’ve come to the realization that I know/am acquainted with approximately 60 of them… So odds are, the rest are strangers. 

If you were fortunate enough to see the comedy Blades of Glory a few years back, then I’m sure you are acquainted with the phrase “Stranger Danger!” This was a little boy’s simple way to remember that if you don’t know that person, run the other way. They will find you. And they will kill you. (That’s a bit of an exaggeration…Unless you’re Liam Neeson.) But in reality, strangers can be dangerous. So why on earth do our parents send us to cities, sometimes states and continents away to be surrounded by strangers? Because they are abusive and horrible. Or they just want us to experience life for ourselves. Usually the second reason is the most accurate. 

As kids, we are hardwired to avoid strangers at all cost, but in life, these strangers have potential to be your next boss, a best friend, an in-law, and even the love of your life. Every single friend, family member, co-worker, and teacher was at one point in our lives a stranger. So why are we so afraid to meet people? 

Obviously, there are some pretty sketchy people in the world and I’m NOT suggesting you go hug the scariest looking person in the room. However, I am advocating that you join in on life. Join clubs, a church, a sports team, ask someone to get a coffee, and talk to strangers. I know I am one of the worst people at this. Creating shy bubbles is on of my best attributes. However, this is college! The perfect time to create everlasting friendships, talk to guys, network, meet with professionals, and start living. If you aren’t in college, that is NO excuse not to be doing the same as me. It might be a little more difficult, but there are people around you all the time. Ask questions, and if you get the cold shoulder, move on. Not everyone is willing to see the world as an awesome place and upon up to others. Some are likely to be freaked out by your gesture, but that doesn’t mean everyone will be.

The key to success when talking to a stranger is to be yourself. Unless you are a rude and arrogant person. Then be someone nice. It’s nearly impossible to tell how you would get along with someone from a distance. You could discover that you have a very diverse group of friends, and in my opinion, that is the best. You have a friend for all of your interests: someone to play ridiculous board games with on Sundays, someone to study with on Mondays, someone to run with on Thursdays, or someone to go to a campus ministry with on Tuesdays. The great thing is, no one can decide who your friends are. That decision is entirely up to you. Choose wisely, though. Make sure to be friends with good people that you can trust and be yourself around. Don’t change yourself for others.

I challenge anyone with no life that is currently reading this marvelous blog to go out, make new friends, build relationships, and don’t leave God a stranger.