Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Small talk encourages positive interactions

Natán Murillo

Little meaningful moments with strangers seem fewer and farther between on such a huge campus like UT. It is easy to follow a routine that repeats the same interactions in the same environment, but pushing yourself to branch out could be the start of something impactful. As an introvert, I found that switching up my routine in college was quite difficult and made me feel uneasy. To feel secure, I found myself sticking to the same schedule, talking to the same people and sitting in the same spot in all of my classes. 

However, I recently took a different route to class which resulted in an unexpected encounter that sparked a moment of reflection. A sweet stranger complimented my jewelry at the crosswalk, and that moment stayed with me for the rest of my day. I realized that changing my routine opened my day to new, positive possibilities. That lovely stranger opened my eyes to the realization that unless I began to prioritize these small exchanges, my days to graduation could quite possibly feel the same, and that was a very scary thought.

Sunny Koganti, a neuroscience and human development and family sciences senior, is a member of the Longhorn SHARE Project, which helps combat loneliness by connecting students with similar interests. Koganti, coming out of an isolating COVID-19 freshman year, was driven to look inward into how she can be someone who verbalizes thoughts to those around her. 

“It doesn’t have to be a complete like personality change … A lot of times it was just me taking steps to kind of say what was already on my mind,” Koganti said. “If I’m in the elevator with someone and I really liked their outfit, I will actually tell them instead of just thinking it in my head, and just little things like that.”

Implementing this change can not only brighten someone’s day but it can also help you actively gain the confidence to connect with new communities. 

“By understanding myself more, I can figure out how to express myself and put (myself) in situations where I can meet like-minded people, and start those conversations and start making friends,” Koganti said. 

For me, it was looking introspectively to decipher what was intimidating about these interactions.  

I want to be the person who gives the unsolicited compliment that leaves someone feeling seen. It all starts with slowing down and having an extra spark of confident energy to speak up at the stoplight or in the elevator. Whether you’re the extroverted individual who wouldn’t think twice about talking to a stranger, or someone who may overthink and second guess the interaction, we all know that warm feeling that comes with being unexpectedly complimented. 

We can all be people who don’t think twice before complimenting a stranger. Something so slight can have such a large domino effect. Next time you are writing in your planner, add a little reminder to try to brighten someone’s day during your week.

Gannon is a journalism freshman from Houston, Texas.

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