Farewell

I was going to end the blog in June after my wedding, but as the date gets closer, I am starting to realize that this wedding thing might actually take up more of my time than I thought. So I’ve decided to say goodbye on a high note and not be one of those bloggers that just fades away with fewer and fewer posts.

It goes without saying that this has been an incredible journey. Almost two years ago I made a decision to take control of my life by doing something simple: talking to strangers. It turned out not to be so simple after all and I never could have imagined ago the impact that my decision would have on my life.

It’s not just the obvious boon of meeting and marrying Michelle. Or the relationships with countless others, both profound and mundane, that I’ve nurtured over the course of the Project. The result I’m most proud of is the change in me.

I used to overthink things and the dialog in my head about what the other person would say if I started a conversation would be too much to overcome. Does this person just want to be alone? What if they don’t like me? What if I embarrass myself?

Now, it’s not that I don’t care, I do, it’s just that I know most people like people. And those who don’t, the people who say “Fuck off,” well, I’m better able to brush it off. Because I’ve racked up some wins, I can better ignore the defeats.

Talking to people has become second nature. I really am that guy in the elevator now who says, “How’s everybody doing?” (Okay, maybe not really like the Sparklets guy, but I have spoken to a lot of people in elevators.) I just like the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen when you interact with another person. It still makes my heart race when I approach someone, but now it’s exciting, not terrifying.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I’ve become the person I never even knew I could be. Sure, maybe I’m unemployed, but that doesn’t seem to matter right now. I’m about to go on this journey with Michelle and it just feels awesome.

I know I’ve said most of this stuff before. After two years, I’ve said pretty much everything I can think of. But one thing I don’t think I’ve said enough is how much I appreciate the support and emails and comments from the people who’ve been following this Project. For every comment you see, I get a few private emails from people telling me about their lives. About how they’re shy or just in a situation where it’s tough to meet people. I respond to every one of them and I tell them if I can do it, so can you. Sometimes, it’s heartbreaking to hear about younger kids–teenagers or college students–telling me about how hard it is. But trust me, the hardest part is taking that first step.

I don’t want to be all self-congratulatory, patting myself on the back for my own successes or for being all “inspirational” to other people. But I have learned a lot and I think it’s worth sharing. It all boils down to this: people were not meant to be alone. We need human interaction. It’s what makes life worth living. And unfortunately, sometimes that takes effort. Sometimes it takes a shitload of effort. But it’s never not worth it.

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42 Responses to Farewell

  1. Alex C says:

    Well-said Fletcher! Best of luck on the wedding, and thanks for being such an inspiration to us all. It’s truly been an incredible journey to go on with you and I have nothing but high hopes for your future.

    My only wish is that when this blog inevitably gets pumped out into some overly-simplified, cheesy romantic comedy by the studio system–and you’re off on talk shows and press tours–you’re able to hold onto yourself and stay true to those values that have made you so impervious to celebrity culture thus far. I think your anonymity has been a huge plus to the project. So, as Austin Kleon, author of ‘Steal Like an Artist’ says, “enjoy your obscurity while you still have it.”

  2. Noah says:

    Thanks so much for this blog. It has the honor of being the first, and only blog that I’ve followed closely over time. I really appreciate it, and I think you should be forever happy knowing how much of a success this whole thing was. Remember for every douche bag comment on here, there’s a hundred nice strangers reading.

  3. Brandon says:

    Wow. Congratulations, Fletcher! I only started to follow the blog after Damon Lindelof posted the link, but I have since gone back and read every post. They all brought me joy and hope. I’m going to take the first step.

    -Brandon

  4. Malu says:

    :’)
    best of luck to you.

  5. America says:

    I got introduced to this blog after an exchange student I met last fall explained to me how it was that we somehow started a conversation in the middle of campus, and I would ask him about “the Fletcher blog” whenever I saw him, in that way we try to prepare conversations with people we really like so there’s not a terrifying lull. As we started dating and following your story about meeting Michelle and proposing it was really funny to think that what inspired him to talk to me, was leading him to a similar outcome. We’re not engaged, we’re young and in love and crossing oceans to be together, trying to build a life. And as he sent me an email today with the sad subject line that he’s reading you for the last time, your letter echoed his paper one that also arrived today:

    People were not meant to be alone. We could survive without each other, stay afloat and harden our hearts to the world, thinking we won over whatever vulnerability tries to take us down. But meeting the right person, the right people, makes you see and respect life and what it’s worth, and make all the shitloads of effort a little more tolerable in the end.

    I’m happy you wrote this blog, found your way out of the paper bag of the life you didn’t really want, and found a way to forge your own path and take control. This is what we’re supposed to be doing. I hope we all remember you at random times and take that step that might make us look like an idiot, for the chance to win some happiness and make our freedom. I hope your life turns out awesomely. (Follow up blog in ten years, hey hey….or WWFD bracelets…just saying, you could totally milk this thing….)

    Lots of love and appreciation and respect,

    America
    (T’s Michelle)

  6. S_Dillinger's friend says:

    Hi there Fletcher,

    This blog has slowly but surely improved my social anxiety over the last couple of months. You may remember S_Dillinger mentioning me in a comment a while back. Well things are slowly turning around.

    I’m out joining rec sports leagues to meet people and chatting up anyone I come in contact with now without even thinking about it. It’s a slow process but I hope to meet more people and see where it takes me!

    May you have an awesome wedding and good luck on your job search ahead!

    S_Dillinger’s friend

  7. Max says:

    Thanks for blogging, I really enjoyed reading every post!

  8. Liz says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiment with us. I’ve enjoyed the journey. And been inspired. :)

  9. S. Dillinger says:

    Hey,

    Just wanted to say thanks for a great read. Not many people get to thank a great author, or wonderful musician, and on the few occassions I’ve had doing so it’s turned out less then spectacular on a few random times. But I’m glad to see you’ve stayed humble with your e-fame and kept people in the loop especially in the comments. A fan appreciates that in any format the fandome may be in.

    Although I’ve always been sociable and good at connecting with people it was nice to get a reminder of the basics and it’s helped to show me that you can talk to more then just girls your own age and dudes with simular t-shirts at parties. I’ve been reveling in the challenge of floating a conversation with an unexpected stranger. It’s a life skill you need if you want to maintain a level of happiness. Sometimes people just forget how to connect when it’s as simple as sharing an interest with someone else.

    I’ve probably given this site to 40-50 people and I’ve encouraged them to share it as well, so thats just one more connection shared through us all. As you see my friend up there (S_Dillinger’s friend) has found some solice and comfort in a motivational piece like this and it’s been helping him. We discuss progress and stories and I’ve seen the change already in him. In my opinion, a blog like this could do more good then a therapist ever could.

    Anyway, best of luck pal and if you’re ever in Toronto send me an email and I’ll buy ya a beer and maybe hit on the wife a bit.

  10. pandora says:

    I’ve followed your blog off and on since last summer and was sad to see the final post the other day. What an amazing (and inspirational) journey….thanks for sharing.

  11. MacBisho says:

    Your blog has been a massive inspiration to me, even though I talk to people I don’t know all the time it’s for work – talking to strangers outside of that has always made me uncomfortable. Your method of introducing yourself “Hi I’m Fletcher…” is so obvious and simple – yet I never thought that was a way to first introduce myself.

    Tried it a couple of times – sure enough it works.

    I’m going to miss your updates, but am extremely happy for you.

    Have fun!

  12. Jack says:

    I’m gonna miss this blog. Still remember when I started reading. Thanks for sharing your experiences and giving me a great thing to do when I’m bored at school/work. All the best to you and Michelle. Who knows, I’m in LA, maybe we’ll share an elevator one day.

  13. kingfisher says:

    Hi Fletcher,

    I only just discovered this (from the BBC article) and have been reading your older posts – this project was such a good idea! I’ve often felt that speaking to strangers would really enhance my life and maybe add a little to others people’s too, but I never seem to know what to say. If I’m not feeling totally crippled by shyness that day, then I will talk – only to wrap up the conversation pretty quickly to try and get the hell away from the awkwardness. I never seem to be able to tap into..it.

    But the fact that I’ve tried still puts a smile on my face.

    I’ve just graduated as a doctor so ‘people skills’ should really come more easily to me…but sadly they don’t. I understand the ‘inertia’ you speak of in your blog and I’ll try harder to overcome it in future. Today I spoke to a homeless person who was sitting by Asda reading a battered Dan Brown book. He told me he doesn’t like asking people for money (I offered first) and that he’s dyslexic but likes reading even though it’s difficult. And then I felt really shy and asked for his name, told him mine and made my exit.

    I don’t particularly like who I am at the moment and in some ways have quite a restricted life – so I want to use ‘talking to strangers’ as a way to explore the world, learn and become a better person…

    Sorry for rambling!

    Best wishes to both you and Michelle for the wedding and the life beyond!

    • I know that feeling, “Please let me just get the hell out of here!” It must be the fight or flight instinct because I have many times wanted to run away rather than talk to someone. But I think most people feel the same way and if you make the effort, they appreciate it. It took a long time for me to get used to starting conversations, and still today I’m no expert. But the effort pays dividends in all sorts of unpredictable and amazing ways. It’s just chaos theory– talking to strangers introduces so many variables into the equation you never know what’s going to happen. And that’s what makes it fun and exhilarating.

      Thanks for writing in.

  14. Rob says:

    So that’s it then, I can go to bed now !

    It just struck me taht I’ve always haev the opposite problem, I’m an ace with strangers but I have horrible trouble knowing what to say to people I already know to some extent…. that guy you met a few times or the girl youve already had small chat with.

    It’s now a personal resolution of mine to overcome that voice in the head that avoids those akward situations and dive in, too often I’ve seen people I know and get on well with in the distance and made sure they dont see me.

    What’s more I get the feeling neither you nor I are alone with these idiosyncrasies.

    Good luck and goodnight.
    Rob

  15. hannah says:

    I also just read about your blog on a BBC article. Its fantastic- I can’t wait to start from the beginning and work my way through it!!! Good luck with everything!!!

  16. Your blog is one of the most helpful blogs I’ve read in a long time and I can’t stop tweeting your advice after reading about your blog in BBC.

    We’ve developed a mobileapp precisely because of the message you are sharing that, “People need human interaction and while it takes a sh*Tload of effort, it is
    never not worth it”.

    Jabberly (http://jabberly.com) aims to make it easier for people to initiate conversations with other people in the same local area by leveraging foursquare checkins.

    People today both need personal human interaction and their ‘private space’. With Jabberly, people can ‘softly’ approach strangers by maybe saying hello first via a mobileapp, and then moving only to face-to-face conversations or walking over to the person when he or she is welcomed or invited.

    So hopefully, Jabberly is one way, people can overcome their personal challenges about talking to strangers.

    Regards,
    Celina M.
    https://twitter.com/#!/Jabberly

  17. Ally says:

    Hey Fletcher aka PEPE

    An BBC article linked me to here this very early morning. Then I spent a few hours reading most of your blog on bed and almost forgot to go to work. I have to say I’m inspired by your courage to expand your life. I’ve made up my mind to be more open to random conversations with strangers too. Finally, congratulation to you and Michelle. She definitely made a RIGHT choice to be with you. AND, Don’t stop talking and thinking. Maybe you should write something specifically about how to overcome self-conscious in front of strangers. Your attitude in most situations is pretty awesome!

  18. Gala says:

    I found your blog today and loved every bit of it. Strange how I find you incredibly brave just for talking to the people around you, when it should be something natural for social creatures like humans! I would love to say that I’ll try to talk to some strangers but I’m quite a reserved Brit and I doubt I’ll be chatting to people on the bus. In London, it tends to make others edgy when you talk to them. That said, I did have a great chat with a guy on a coach journey once – but he was American, so he didn’t get the whole British attitude to strangers! Great blog, hope your marriage is long and happy!

  19. Jam says:

    Well, That’s it then.
    I know I’ve commented a few times before, so I won’t repeat what I said, and I’m also conscience of the fact that my name is slowly taking over the “recent comments” update at the top of the page, but as I come to the finish of a constant week of reading from start to finish, I feel the need to sum up really.

    This has been one of, or perhaps, the best authored blog/journal I’ve ever had the pleasure to read Fletcher. Your opinions and insights into everyday life have been fascinating, and impressively accurate. Following on from what Gala above me said, and something you touched on earlier in the blog, it really is scary to think that social networking and TV has given us the illusion of companionship and that talking to each other in the modern age has become a forgotten skill. And to think I never realised that Phenomenon was actually happening until I read your blog!!

    British people have a very different attitude to strangers than Americans, who seem a lot more open and willing to talk. But I guess even you encountered people that weren’t quite so cooperative. British people can be rude, yes, but hell I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let that stop me from giving this “talking to strangers” thing a try…

    On a final note, A film by my favourite band Angels and Airwaves touches on that very subject of the fundamental need for human connection. It’s called “L )ve” and is about a lone astronaut that is trapped on the International Space Station and is cut off from the rest of humanity. One of the main points of the film, is that if nobody talks to anyone, then their whole sense of reality becomes pretty warped. You should watch it…

    So, as final words go, as musically scored by Tom Delonge himself:
    “I’ve found one last thing to believe in…”

    • I will check out that film. I read the synopsis and it sounds fascinating.

      Anyway, thanks for the comments. I’m constantly amazed at how many people feel the same way I do about how isolated we’ve become. It makes me feel like I’m not crazy, first of all, but also, it’s also a bit of a cure to the problem. Nothing compares to real human interaction, but strangers thousands of miles apart communicating with each other over blog comments is still pretty awesome.

  20. Tex says:

    Fletcher, I’m so glad everything’s turned out well for you. I realise that obviously you’re not finished, but I appreciate that the part of your story you’ve shared with us all has drawn to a natural conclusion. It’s been a wonderful read to follow along to, and I wish you all the best for a happy future. Who knows… maybe one day I’ll be a stranger talking to you in person.

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