Serendipity is quite something.
Honestly, I’m pretty terrible at recognizing serendipitous opportunities. And even when I do, I almost never take advantage of them. I’ve never been the type of person to engage in a conversation with a stranger sitting next to me, because hello! introvert!
But I’ve recently changed my mind about this after finding one of my closest friends this way.
I’m now much more open to talking to just about anybody, as well as INITIATING the conversation because I know how life-altering it can be. Let me explain.
By the way, anyone else obsessed with the movie Serendipity?
Since I decided to go back to school for another degree (better be the last one damn it!), it’s been excruciatingly difficult to make friends. Being in a new country is a beast of a challenge in itself…being a decade older than everyone else in class definitely doesn’t make the transition easier. So, I joined a couple of Facebook groups geared towards Americans living in the Netherlands. My peeps yo. And I’m not kidding, but on a daily basis, the recurring theme is how DIFFICULT it is to make friends here in the Netherlands. We just like to blame it on the Dutch. Here are some snippets:
So you can imagine how much more space this subject takes up in my mind when I see that others are having just as hard of a time. Even though it’s not JUST ME, it doesn’t take away from the fact that making friends in a new country is extremely difficult.
Which is why when a chance encounter happened, I was all up in it!
I was out with my husband and toddler, walking around the museum quarter on a sunny day when out of nowhere this little girl took a liking to my son. She wouldn’t stop trying to hug him. Maybe that’s what I need to do to make friends here?
At some point, my son took off running into the field, and she went straight after him. Here we were, two sets of parents, running after our 2-year-olds, dodging tourists and cameras all around.
At some point, I decided to stay back and observe the unfolding scene. My husband and the mom of the girl were still running after them. I started making small talk with the dad and picked up an American accent. Or let’s say a non-Dutch accent.
I asked the usual questions, where are you guys from, what brings you here, etc. You know, small talk.
The moment he told me that they’ve been living here for 3 years was the moment a light bulb went off in my head.
THEY CAN BE OUR FRIENDS!
We all then caught up with the kids and got more into talking. I ended up walking around with the mom, while my husband chatted with her husband. We loved them immediately so we had to find a way to force them into a friendship with us.
Muahahaha suckers had no clue what was about to hit them.
So after an hour of walking around, and our kids playing as if they’ve known each other forever, we exchanged phone numbers.
Now, this is usually where the story ends, and I wanted to make sure that wouldn’t be the case.
I met up with her for coffee the following week, then we invited them over for breakfast, then they invited us over for dinner, and now we’re about to go to Drag Bingo night with them.
All because I rose up to the opportunity given to me. Old me would have just brushed it off as our kids being cute, exchanged pleasantries, and called it a day. But new me knows how hard it is to make friends, so I had to get out of my comfort zone and put myself out there.
And honestly, my friendship with her has saved me a lot of mental anguish because I now have someone I can reach out to when I’m having a difficult time here.
Sometimes just one person can make the biggest difference in the world.
So my challenge to YOU is to start spotting these serendipitous moments that can completely impact your life in a meaningful way.
Don’t let that love/friend/mentor walk away.
While it’s uncomfortable at the beginning to make the first step, the benefits you’ll reap from that relationship will make up for it. I promise.