When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?
I stand in the middle of a company of strangers. I used to think that, if I wanted to try something new and definitely crazy, I’d want to do so in the comfortable cradle of close friends. I learned, after several tries with friends, I much prefer the company of strangers. With strangers, you can be yourself. You don’t have to worry about stories going around the office or school or town, whichever maybe the purview of your social group. Opening up with strangers, for the same reason, is easier. Why else would we flock in such droves to talk to doctors or lawyers or psychologists?
And, if you chance, one of those strangers becomes a friend, it is entirely possible no words will be spoken of any embarrassing incidents which occurred during the event. They were there and know you have as many stories about their own performance or lack thereof.
I met my best friend this way. Both skydiving, both so terrified the instructor almost had to push us out of the plane and jump with us, just in case we panicked and forgot how to pull the rip cords . We pulled the cords, of course, too terrified not to pull them. Once we hit the ground, we both decided we never wanted to ever see a plane or a parachute again and we definitely were never going to be so stupid as to jump out of one.
“After all,” he said, “planes were meant to take one from A to B, not for people to bail out in the middle of the flight.”
I agreed wholeheartedly and off we went to Waffle House for breakfast. Ah, the start of a beautiful friendship.