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I’m Shy, but Talking to Strangers Has Improved My Mental Health

I’m pretty shy — maybe more of an ambivert since it depends on the situation, but recently I started to push myself to talk to other people who I don’t know but I sense may share some common interests with me.

I started reaching out a few weeks ago at a concert in Chicago by my favorite English singer-songwriter Frank Turner. Frank usually wields an acoustic guitar and plays mostly easygoing solo folk music, but on this tour, he’d gone primarily electric, performing a louder set of punk songs with his full band, The Sleeping Souls. It was among the best live music I’ve seen this year, with an encore of “I Still Believe,” his most famous song, to give you a taste.

Usually I would never muster the courage for “small talk” with anyone, but this ended up really great. I just turned to the blonde woman next to me and said, “Have you seen Frank before?” It turns out she had seen him 20 times, she had Frank Turner tattoos and along with her husband and friend, had been following Frank on his 50 States in 50 Days tour, which just wrapped successfully with a final show in Hawaii.

They were from Grand Rapids, Michigan. We talked about Frank’s sobriety — he is in recovery for cocaine addiction. We discussed my sobriety. And that deep conversation continued in-between bands. I told them I was a writer and that I had written a memoir about my mental illness, addiction, and recovery. I gave one of them my card so they could check it out.

The evening culminated with the three of them giving me a huge bear hug and a heck of an excited congrats when I told them I was 10 years sober.

They said Frank is very open with his fans and encouraged me to write him an email about my book, given the fact that we are both sober and obviously

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My Mental Health

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