was am a geek. I used to get to high school early every morning, to play chess. I was the photo editor (read photographer) for the school newspaper and the yearbook. One of my best friends was the A/V guy. I think I’ve got serious geek cred.
I was in a youth group, where I was a “cool guy.” So I had two lives: my school persona (geek, shy, liked being behind a camera rather than in front of one, no girlfriend [’til senior year], no social skills) and my youth group persona (cool kid, knew everyone, outgoing, etc).
When I went off to college, I made a conscious decision that I was going to be the youth group person and not the high school person. It helped that absolutely no one from my high school went with me to college. I would say that I remade myself in Boston, but truth be told, I was already that person. I just chose to not be that other person. I still liked chess, I still took pictures, it was just a willingness to speak to people, strangers. To start conversations. To put myself out there.
I remember one summer at my youth group convention I made a decision that by the end of the week, I was going to meet everyone there. And I did. I introduced myself to about 100 people over the course of the week, in addition to talking to the people I already knew. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. I just decided that I was going to be friendly. To everyone.
And I had a great group of friends in college. A diverse group. Same with law school. I was friends with the conservative group, the earthy-crunchy types. Everyone.
I like being that person.