Over the past year and a half, I have had many incredible life experiences that continue to open my eyes to the possibilities of the human race. Most of these consist of authentic human connection and its unique ability to shape our world. Without true and meaningful relationships, the very world which we have tried so hard to develop will crumble to pieces in front of us; especially on the route our global community is deciding to take. 

On New Years Eve I threw an event for my community, allowing anyone at anytime to show up and connect with those in attendance. This lead to around 25 inspired teenagers coming together to form new friendships throughout a magical night. Before entering the event, everyone was asked to write down their biggest dream and place it in the “Dream Box”. These dreams were kept safe until halfway through the event when all of them were read aloud. The purpose of this event was to allow those who had similar dreams to work together throughout the new year in order to accomplish these dreams. Beautiful conversations and connections were created because of this simple activity. This was only one part of the event which allowed everyone a safe space to explore their own comfort zones and vulnerabilities. 

Another activity which encouraged exploration of everyone’s comfort zone was the connective staring contest. For 3 minutes, people are partnered up and asked to look into each other’s eyes. This activity not only connects people, but it pushes them outside their comfort zone, and forces them to be very vulnerable. I was partnered up with my best friend of 4 years. Although we spend every second of every day together, it was still so uncomfortable to look into his eyes. My eyes as well as his began to tear up. For a reason I’m still trying to find, in that moment, I felt the closest I have ever felt to anyone ever. By pushing myself outside my comfort zone and allowing vulnerability to present itself in my life, my connection with my best friend evolved into something amazing. 

Now for my two cents. IT IS NOT EASY TO ALLOW PEOPLE INTO OUR LIVES. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of vulnerability. Because of technology, our ability to authentically connect and have necessary face-to-face conversations rather than virtually connect and direct message (DM) has been severely impacted. It should not be difficult for me to say good morning to a classmate in the morning, yet I struggle to get the words out of my lips every time I pass by someone. It should not be difficult for me to approach someone sitting alone at lunch, yet I struggle to build up the courage to ask to eat with them. Throughout the past year, I have made a conscious effort to seek discomfort and do these activities. Although I am out of my comfort zone, I have started to feel free. I have started to feel close to my community and the people in it. I have realized that I only have one life to live. Will that one life be filled with regret of not asking that girl to the dance? Will that one life be filled with sadness for not approaching that one kid who needed saving? Or, will my life be filled with immense pride over the fact that I took advantage of every opportunity to authentically connect with humans in a world which is severely lacking it. These questions lead me towards dedicating more time to myself and self reflection through reading

Recently, I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It talked about following one’s dream as a moral obligation. I believe that it is our moral obligation as humans, to connect with others in the human race. Trust me, I understand that everything I am discussing will cause some discomfort. I understand that it is no longer normal to have deep and meaningful conversations with people. And I also understand that some of you may continue to live with this knowledge and do nothing about it. That is ok. But I will not stand by and act like I am innocent to the fact that this will all take time. I desire to live in a world where saying good morning is normal and people prioritize kindness, love, empathy, and vulnerability. Do you? 

– Hayden, California

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