By Miguel Soria, Jaunty graduate
Going into college, I was convinced that to be successful studying medicine, I had to sit in my room or the library and study. The social aspect of college was a waste of time since nothing can be gained by simply being social. Or so I thought.
The summer before my sophomore year, I started working at Starbucks which was a complete 180 from what I was used to. Coworkers talked like old high school friends catching up on each other's lives. They even talked to our customers like they were new classmates they were trying to get to know. But because I had sheltered myself from these social environments, I had trouble talking to my coworkers or even taking orders. I went to work with social anxiety everyday.
Around this time, I discovered YouTube channels that explored social situations and pushed what was possible socially. I tried some of these experiments and slowly started developing my social skills. But I had no real sense of direction and my anxiety kept getting the better of me, forcing me to stop again and again.
One day, I was having lunch with my friend Craig who told me that he was a social trainer for Jaunty and explained what Jaunty is all about. From that conversation, I was hooked. I attended a workshop, did a one-on-one with Eric and took the six-week course. The course gave me the direction I was lacking to build up my social skills. I think the greatest part of taking the course is knowing that the other people in the room are trying to accomplish the same goals as you.
With the course coming to an end, I still struggled with how other people would perceive me talking to strangers. I feared other people would judge me for being social. I thought they would think I was weird to approach someone at a store, in the street, or in some cafe just because I felt like talking to them. Once Eric made me aware that nothing bad was going to happen, I took on new and daring challenges to fight off my "approach" anxiety.
When I heard musician Damon Albarn paint a picture of modern society being "everyday robots" I realized that nobody really cares what you do on a daily basis. Now I love talking to strangers for no reason other than to talk to them. Interacting with customers became a fun way to get to know someone even if it was just for a couple of minutes. Sometimes you just have to break somebody's robotic routine and give them a special experience that's become rarer in the digital age: a conversation with a stranger.