Extroversion on the Way to Ikea

A successful life is nothing more than a series of small decisions accumulated over a period of time. If you make enough good decisions, you’ll be just fine. Today I had a lot to do, so I decided to save some time by trying out this new public transportation service in my area called FIPS. It was a good move; very fast, practical, and for a great price compared to taxis or probably even Uber (not available here yet anyway). Following that decision, I decided to speak more with a stranger today.

The driver who picked me up today was a young man named Sibiden (I hope I’m spelling that right). As we drove to Ikea so I could finally order a new kitchen, we discussed our origins and general views about life. He was born in Koblenz, but has called Mannheim home since late 1999 or 2000. His family’s roots are in Kosovo. I’ve never been to Koblenz, but his experience is similar to my living in Kaiserslautern: small downtown area, villiage type of feel on the outskirts, nice for families maybe. Boring is what I’m trying to say. We both love Mannheim with its faster pace, greater mix of people, and abundant opportunities.

He found it very commendable that I came to Germany at 21 years of age in the military with no fear and decided to stay. People (myself included) usually find it intriguing and inspiring whenever someone forges their own path in life. He told me about his brother-in-law who traveled from Kosovo to Austria by foot and created a new life. The journey lasted one month. Those types of stories are always fascinating to me, and I honestly wish I’d traveled extensively when I was young and single. Still possible now, just takes more planning with a family.

Normally I’m not great at holding conversation. I’m the classic introverted entrepreneur with a thousand things floating around my mind at any given time. It seems I always come up with the perfect thing to say after the conversation has long since passed. I committed to setting that aside today however. I think I read in How to Win Friends and Influence People that in order to ensure people enjoy your company, you must ask questions about them. I kept reminding myself to do so whenever it seemed the conversation reached too long of a pause. I’m genuinely interested in people and their stories (which also helps my photography), but I often get caught up in my own thoughts about what to ask instead of just…asking.

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C. Duayne Pearson monochrome mirror self-portrait with Canon AE-1 Program 35mm camera

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