How to Deal With the “Missed Connections” of Travel
We have all had trips in which we’ve run into a kindred spirit.
You know what I mean. Maybe in your hostel you sit next to someone for breakfast, or at the market in Saigon you ask someone for the time—and you guys just click in a totally Step Brothers, “Did we just become best friends?!” way.
You end up spending eating a meal together, or maybe you hang out that entire serendipitous day. You’re shocked at how you connected with someone so quickly, after minutes, until—bam, they’re catching their flight out or in a cab to their next destination.
It’s then that you realize you’ve become momentary best friends with this person and you may likely never see them again for the rest of your life…
Talk about a missed connection.
I can think of multiple times this has occurred with me—once with a girl named Shamima, who was my best friend on a week-long cruise when I was 11. Another time was the guy from this story, who I fell in love with on a 6-hour connection flight to Iceland.
This was more the case a few years ago when social media wasn’t so common, and no one had unlimited data.
But it still, if you travel it will inevitably happen to you.
You’re going place to place in planes, trains, and automobiles. Country to country, town to town. Statistically, missed connections are just more likely to happen to us.
It may be that drunk girl in the club bathroom who says that you are beautiful and that you have a body like a goddess, or that guy who randomly offers you a ride to the store on his moped in Italy—you just feel it.Have you ever met someone while traveling, and realized you'll never see them again? Click To Tweet
The potential friendship, the potential memories, the potential adventures. All cut anticlimactically short by the minor fact that you don’t actually know that person beyond that brief moment.
Essentially, you’ve got friends-blue-balls (LOL, I died typing that because it’s true).
It’s just a fact that you meet people so you may never have the reason to run into her again. Even if you get there and social media, you don’t really know each other. So it’s weird to reach out. But you had that special connection, and it unsettles you that it was so limited.
It’s wasn’t a life-altering encounter, and you may even forget about them tomorrow.
But for some people, it can be really sad. You want to connect with everyone you meet—and as I said, with social media it’s much easier—but knowing that you’ll never have the opportunity to fulfill that relationship is simply unsatisfying! I still think about what Shamima would be like, even today.
So how to you kick that sad, nagging feeling that you just never get to know someone who you think you felt a connection with?
My advice is just to cherish those moments.
There’s a belief that we as humans don’t have just one soul mate, but that we can have multiple—and I truly believe that is what those instant connections are. They come into our lives when we need the most and least expect it, and change us for the better, even if in the smallest way.
Don’t try to cling to a moment is only destined to be fleeting, no matter how disappointing it may feel.
Value that moped ride for what it is—a lovely story of your time abroad you can carry with you and make your heart pound thinking about it. Let that girl in the bathroom be the story you tell when people ask you why clubbing is the best in London!
I let Shamima, who happened to be Indian, be a story of how I didn’t even recognize her as an Indian until my mom told me later, and how race is something we only consciously see as we get older.
It’s a hard pill to swallow that some moments are just moments, and that’s all they ever will be.It’s a hard pill to swallow that some moments are just moments, and that’s all they ever will be. Click To Tweet
And as I said, if you travel, you’re more likely to have hundreds more of those moments than the average person simply because of the situations you’re in and the sheer number of people you’ll interact with.
But, ah, a silver lining!
I truly believe that every time you travel you make your world a little bit smaller.
I met people my very first day in Dubai that I didn’t run into again until my very last day there. I’ve run into childhood friends from Japan, here in the U.S. I’ve run into students from my U.S. college all the way in a London hostel!
You can’t force anything in this universe, and que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. You have to believe that if you are meant to meet those people again, you will.