Hi, my name is Amanda Slavin and I am addicted to people. I am so in love with so many types of people, thrive off of so many people's talents and thoughts and conversations. If anyone knows me, they know I could talk to anyone and everyone for hours. I am truly blown away by the little things I find out about people that make them who they are, and how they got to where they are. I live life to Plato's idea of the truth; I compile as many different versions of the "truth" and create my own. And while I love to listen to people, I also LOVE to talk. Someone recently told me, "you are different than most people in New York City because you are actually listening to what I'm saying and responding so passionately to what I'm talking about." Wow, it made me start to think -- how many people are just talking, and "hearing" what others are saying without embracing the people around them? With the fast lights, big-city mentality, how many people are already onto the next thought in their head about what they have to do for work or that appointment in the morning they have to prepare for while in mid-conversation?
Building off of my last article about staying hungry instead of feeding off of everyone else's minifeed, I believe that real-life human interaction and respect are also just as important. Once you recognize who you want to be and what you are hungry for, surrounding yourself with passionate, supportive people and listening -- and more importantly, learning from them -- will help guide you to be the best version of yourself. Again, I am not saying to feed off of others, but I am saying that it is so crucial to listen to what others are passionate about to learn from them and create a smorgasbord of information for you to choose from.
The best types of teachers are also the best students, and I love more than ever to learn from and listen to the "experts" in my life. I am very lucky to have such an array of friends that at any given point of time if I have a question about sports or clothes or the news or arts and crafts or music, I can go to my friends for their expertise. I started recognizing this when I went to the Renegade crafts fair with my passionate, highly infectious friend Erica Domesek, founder of P.S. I Made This. Erica does not have to claim to be an expert, she just is. As an avid crafter since she was 8 years old, she is doing what she loves and sharing this DIY (do it yourself) passion/fashion to the world. As we walked in the 90-degree heat in Brooklyn, her positivity never faltered; I watched as she spoke with countless crafters, asking them about their stories, listening to their creativity. This is why Erica is so good at what she does. She is driven by passion, and while she can definitely tell it like it is, she also listens and sees beauty around her where others may not.
As an addict, I am learning that listening is different than absorbing everyone else's thoughts. This is why I am not contradicting my article last week. I am saying you need to accept information and embrace beauty and passion from those you respect and admire, then sift through what matters most to you and then reflect on it all. In other words, let the crust rise to the top then cut out what isn't fitting in your life, forming the most honest version of yourself, accepting the best of all the people around you not to complete yourself, but to learn from their expertise and create your own version of it.
I came to this conclusion because a person who knows me more than anyone in the world recently analyzed me and was spot-on. He told me my problem was that I see the best in so many people, put them on a pedestal, then internalize it when they do anything that veers away from this ideal version I have created in my head. I started realizing that this isn't fair to them or to me. You can never complete yourself with someone else's expertise, you can only learn from them, listen to them and accept them for the passion and beauty they bring to your life.
That's the thing about being an addict; I now recognize there is a balance. If you are feeding yourself with everyone else, you will lose yourself along the way. I'm learning that the power of listening and wondering and asking questions without absorbing, obsessing or letting your mind wander is how you can learn from all the experts in your life and see each person as another piece to your puzzle.
So as I write this, I realize I am sorting through my "addiction." I am loving and learning and listening without letting it consume me. I am living a life of passion by supporting and listening to others tell their stories about their passions. Because the best experts always know they can learn more, never think they know it all, and they know the day you cut yourself off from learning is the day you become an expert in nothing.
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