On Saturday, I went to Tea Time. Tea Time is a bunch of strangers getting together to talk about anything and everything organized by a recent grad who moved to the Bay Area and wanted to meet more people. A friend from college posted the site to my Facebook and suggested it would be something fun to write about (thanks, Sam!). I checked it out and was instantly hooked, even though things like this are so not me. I am a very shy person before I get to know anyone. Take it from my college roommate: she thought I was mute, and I thought she was the loudest person ever. But then we got to know each other and became wonderful friends. So obviously this terrified me, but it also sounded really awesome and I need more friends and when it doubt, do it for the blog. Hope you guys are happy. ;) You can’t tell me you’re not dying to go after reading the description. And THIS:
“I like to think of this experiment as a personalized, non-gender-specific, non-sexualized Tinder. Except I swiped right on everybody. Still not convinced? Here’s a little profile of you:
You’re a recent grad yourself. You’re the last person to ever meet a stranger over tea. You think stuff like this is super cheesy and only meant for followers of stuff like Soul Pancake and Humans of New York. You go to college nearby. You’ve lived in the Bay your whole life and want to impart some appreciation for the area in a doubtful New Yorker. You, like me, just moved here. You’re about to move away from here. You work in tech. Better yet, you don’t work in tech.
You like smiling for no reason. You like hanging out in coffee shops. You like going on hikes and pretending you’re in Narnia. You think about your dreams a lot. You think about Jay-Z a lot (or John Mayer, Mumford and Sons, Justin Bieber, Hans Zimmer, Kaskade, whatever). You don’t quite know why you’re in the Bay Area. You’re wondering if you belong somewhere else. You’re very self-conscious. You don’t know why people are so self-conscious. You’re very health conscious but cookies don’t count. You’re incredibly impulsive. You think too much. You often paint pictures of what the world would look like if you did ___. You know you should exercise more but you’ll get to it tomorrow. You made a plan today and that deserves a pat on the back. You’ve traveled extensively. You’ve planned your future travels extensively. You’re a person. It doesn’t matter what your thing is — I very purposefully want this to be open-ended.
Maybe you’re a vegan. Maybe you hate them. Maybe you’re a grandmaster chess player. Maybe you’re more of a Monopoly person. Or Taboo. Or Apples to Apples. You might work in finance. You might not have time for cheesy stuff like this. Maybe you love your job. Perhaps you hate it and you’re feeling the need for some soul searching right now. For all I know, you hold a Guinness World Record. You were raised on a farm. Maybe you have a Ph. D. I don’t know. I’m running out of random things, but there’s a good likelihood you might not fall into ANY of the things I just rambled on and on about. You’re probably a unique snowflake. And that’s why you should come.” –Let’s Get Tea by Ankit Shah
Ankit is the brains behind the organization and attends four two-hour tea times every week. He is one of those rare individuals who makes you feel as if you’ve known him for years. You just know that he is going to change the world someday. He is a down-to-earth dreamer who you want to be best friends with, but you’ll take a couple hours just to absorb his thoughts. I was the first one to show up on Saturday, and he gave me the kind of hug you’d expect from a good friend or loved one. Except I had never met him before. He is that person, in the best way possible.
And so there I was, surrounded by seven strangers in an empty coffee shop, not knowing what to expect or even what we were going to talk about. Ankit began the conversation and asked us to answer three questions: who are you, what are you about, and what do you need more of in your life?
My answer to the third question was stability.
Once everyone went around the circle and answered the questions, the conversation somehow flowed naturally. There were a few moments of silence and civil disagreements, but it was one of the most invigorating discussions I’ve been a part of. It was like therapy for my heart that I didn’t even know I needed. We talked about living passionately, the consequences of being selfless, how to let go of stress, being nice, spontaneity, and chasing dreams. Taking the time to listen to strangers’ perspectives with a clear mind and open heart is one of the weirdest and most amazing things I’ve ever done. It still seems kind of surreal that it even happened.
By the end of two and a half hours, my answer to the third question changed. It is now peace of mind. So often I think I want, need stability. But in truth, what I really need is peace of mind to accept that my life is not stable right now, and it probably won’t be for a while. And that’s okay. The only reason it bothers me so much is because I have this idea in my head (derived from society, parents, peers, etc.) that it’s not okay. It was at Tea Time that I realized what I need to change is my perspective, not my situation.
Another part of the conversation that really spoke to me was expectations in love. Just because someone doesn’t love you the same way you love them, or in the way that you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you equally. Love would be a whole lot easier if we let people love us on their own terms instead of being disappointed because their way of loving doesn’t mean our expectations. I never thought of it that way before, but it makes so much sense. Of course it’s not always easy, but it’s something to strive for.
How often do eight strangers (including a Harvard grad, a sales intern, a college drop-out who traveled the world, a Google project manager, and a 30-year-old woman who has already been a farmer, wedding planner, business executive, and writer) come together to talk about life with no incentive? It was one of the best experiences, and just another reason why San Francisco is the most magical place in all the land. ♥