It’s human nature to seek comfort. Our brains have evolved to create strong bonds within our social group and to seek out similar individuals. This desire to stay within our comfort zone is stronger than ever during the holidays – a time when we’re surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones. But while the holidays are a great time to relax and recharge, they’re also a perfect opportunity to step outside your bubble and mingle with people who you might not encounter on a daily basis.
Why choose to expand your horizons and meet new people?
Having one-on-one interactions with a variety of people is one of the best ways to combat deeply held biases (whether conscious or unconscious). When you’re exposed to people of different genders, races, religions, socio-economic backgrounds, etc., you begin to realize that the world is a lot more complex (and interesting!) than you may have thought. You will also chip away at the unconscious biases you may hold.
Here are five tips to help you step outside your comfort zone and meet new people during the holiday season:
1. Get Social
Seek out holiday parties or events that are outside your usual social circle. This could be a co-worker’s party, a community mix-and-mingle, or a networking event. It’s fine to attend with a friend; just make sure you make an effort to mingle with other people as well.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people with different backgrounds and experiences. Consider signing up for a one-time opportunity, like wrapping gifts at a local hospital or helping out at a soup kitchen. Or, if you’re looking for something more long-term, find a local organization whose mission you care about and inquire about volunteer opportunities.
3. Attend a Festival or Celebration
There are many cultural festivals or other celebrations that take place during this time of year. Look for events that are open to the public—such as Lunar New Year celebrations or a St. Lucia Day concert—and attend one. Just be sure to be respectful of other cultures’ customs, traditional dress, and rituals.
4. Join a Group or Class
Whether it’s a sports team, book club, cooking class, or holiday-themed activity, joining a group is a great way to meet new people while doing something you love. Check your local community center or recreation department for ideas.
5. Seek Authentic Connections
You don’t need to attend a special event to meet new people – chances are, there are interesting people all around you. Extend a coffee invitation to an acquaintance you would like to get to know better. Or invite a co-worker to lunch. Keep in mind, not everyone wants to open up right away, and that’s okay! These connections should not be about gathering information from people, but should be heartfelt and genuine. That means that you should be prepared to open up at times and be vulnerable (connections and friendships are a two-way street, after all!).
The holiday season is the perfect time to step outside your bubble and start meeting new people. When you expand your network, you begin to see that the biases you’ve learned throughout your life are largely overblown or just plain false. Humanity is complex and multi-faceted, and it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone to expand your perspective and worldview.