I am THAT guy on the subway
“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” – Denis Waitley
The other day, I was taking the subway into downtown Toronto for a meeting. The plan was to get to Spadina Station. Getting on at my usual station north of the city, I found a seat and took the train heading westbound to Yonge Street. I then transferred onto the Yonge-Spadina line and headed southbound into the city.
In the southbound train, I noticed that a girl I saw in the train before was also on this train. She was quite attractive; she had long hair, had a nice sense of style, and occasionally head-bobbed along to the songs she was listening to on her iPod.
I was curious.
Along with us in our train was a young boy who was full of energy and kept skipping up and down the entire compartment. Every so often, he would go back to his mom for some more of his after-school snack, and then, almost as if his snack food was instant fuel, he would jump around even more and become even more hyper. It was cute.
I caught the girl smiling and watching the girl too, and we made eye contact. I sensed a positive energy about her, and was thought to myself that I should go speak with her.
Then came self-doubt.
I wondered if she was a local, and maybe she is on her way to something important and I would just come across as a creepy guy on the subway looking to speak with her. I mean, she did have her headphones in, so maybe she didn’t want to be disturbed.
Or maybe she was a student, and we wouldn’t have things to talk about because I am older than her and a few years out of school. What if other people in the subway would judge me for approaching her?
Or what if she is an immigrant and doesn’t speak English? Does that stop me from being friendly? Should it?
My mind raced the entire time heading southbound.
Soon our train had reached Yonge and Bloor, a major interchange station in Toronto, and I transferred to a train heading westbound towards Spadina station.
To my surprise, the same girl had transferred onto this train as well, and yet again, we were in the same compartment.
Then I reminded myself of one of my favourite questions: “What if I just went for it?”
Immediately, positive questions filled my mind.
What if we get end up getting along really well? What if she also finds it to be a funny coincidence that we got on so many trains together? What if we just shared a friendly conversation on the subway and made each other’s day a bit better? What if we hit it off and fall in love?
Using two of my favourite words for inspiration, I gathered all my courage and went to speak with her. I started by telling her that it’s funny that we were on three trains together. She laughed, and had a great smile.
It turns out that she lives near me, is health-conscious, is studying nutrition, and was on her way to a cross-fit class. We spoke about our hobbies and passions, commiserated over the long daily commute into the city, and were able to get to know each other quite well in just a few minutes on the third train ride. Before my station arrived, we exchanged information to keep in touch, and I walked off the subway feeling awesome.
Taking risks outside my comfort zone is always worth it.
This experience was yet another reminder of how enjoyable it can be to step outside my comfort zone, and not listen to the, often self-limiting, doubts that fill my mind. Listening to the voice inside me that often whispers what I truly want, and going for it without fear of the outcome, helps me honour myself and have the courage to continue to live in line with my values of connecting with others and fostering a sense of community.
Be THAT person on the subway.
Everyone loves people watching on the subway, but why not strike up a conversation with someone? You might make a new friend, might form a special connection that leads to something more, or at the least, you`ll certainly do one nice thing to make the world a bit of a friendlier place.