Why You Matter — How You Save Lives

In a world of 7 billion people, I believe that no one should have to suffer from loneliness. Especially given that loneliness has been shown to increase your risk of death by 26%

xinyi @ don't be strangers
Don’t Be Strangers


My hands are sweaty. It feels like my heart is a spool of wire, being pulled tighter and tighter until it’s ready to snap.

Can they smell me? Did I remember to put on deodorant? Just act normal. Why can’t you just be normal? What’s wrong with me? Where will I sit? Will I make any friends?

It feels like people swarm around me. I feel sick but try to pretend to blend in.

Finally, I sheepishly take a seat in the back corner of the classroom, take out my notebooks and binder, and stare down at my hands. I feel like bursting into tears. As a freshman in college, I was terrified that I wouldn’t make any connection and end up lonely and isolated. But I still found myself here again, in the back of the classroom, avoiding eye contact and hoping no one would notice me.

Do you feel this way? Like you’re different from everyone else? Maybe you feel like you’re not even a person — just an alien trying to pretend to be human.

If you find yourself among the 264 million people who suffer from social anxiety, who think to themselves things like: I’m so awkward, or I have no friends, then rest assured that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! Social skills are just like any other skill you’ve had to learn (from brushing your teeth to using your phone) and can be practiced and improved!

Imagine being able to attend any social event of your choosing and knowing that you’ll be just fine! Small talk before an interview? No problem. Chatting with a random stranger? Naturally. You don’t feel fazed by social interactions because you are supported by an extensive network of friends who deeply love and care for you. When you talk, people can’t help but feel drawn to your self-confidence. You know that conversations give you insight into life, just like reading a good book. And in this book, I’ll walk you through defining and attaining your goals for your dream social life and manifesting this self-confidence!

I (Xinyi, “shin-yee”) was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and moved with my family to Dallas, Texas, at age seven. My first couple of years in school were a huge struggle. English was not my first language, and entering 2nd grade after skipping almost a year of education due to the move made making friends quite tricky. But even after learning English, I never felt quite at home… anywhere.​

Culturally, I wasn’t fully American, but when my family and I visited Malaysia, I was painfully aware that I didn’t quite belong there either. When it came to my passions, I could never decide on a specific creative outlet or medium to hone — not because of indecisiveness (okay, maybe a little bit), but because I find joy in learning, remixing, and over-complicating mixed-media projects. But before I found pride in calling myself a creative chimera, I was hopelessly lost in how to identify my art and, therefore, myself. And being aromantic meant that I couldn’t relate to 99% of the stories represented in pop culture.

In short, I thought I was an alien. After all, surely, you’re not human if you can’t understand such a primary human emotion as romantic love, right?

Instead of romance, I dearly longed for brotherhood and sisterhood, the types of platonic love and chosen family you read about in books.​ The only problem was my extreme introversion and social anxiety. Even amongst my few friends, I didn’t have the confidence to share my thoughts and opinions. How could I develop deep and life-long friendships if I was scared to talk to and connect authentically with others?

I was frustrated and tired of being alone, especially in the presence of people. What if I tried being honest with my friends? What if I complimented that random stranger? I began to ask myself.

And that’s when I realized: I had nothing to lose.

This mindset shift to vulnerability changed everything. As I began to deepen my existing relationships by showing up authentically, I noticed that I was also slowly building my confidence in interacting with absolute strangers. Gradually, I overcame my social anxiety and began to feel like I actually belonged.

Although there are still days when I want to cancel all my plans or prefer watching a room of strangers from a corner rather than engage, I now also know that I’m capable of connecting with anyone I want, whenever I want. And so can you.

You may not feel like it now, but some things in this world are simply true, whether you believe them or not. One of these things is that you matter! Your skill sets, ideas, experiences, and stories are meant to be shared. You will find that by growing in confidence and making the connections you want, you won’t simply benefit yourself; every person who gets to hear your story will walk away a little less drained and lonely than before. With confidence, you’ll also be able to show up authentically in your relationships. Nothing is better than letting someone see you for who you truly are — imperfections and all — and still finding love and acceptance on the other side.

In a world of 7 billion people, I believe that no one should have to suffer from loneliness. Especially given that loneliness has been shown to increase your risk of death by 26% (Campaign to end loneliness, 2019).

Your power to save lives lies in your very existence. When you converse and connect with others, you validate their stories and identities, making them feel like they belong. And in return, you will feel seen, understood, and loved. That’s the magic of conversations.

If you’d like to read the full book, you can download a free PDF version here. 🍀



xinyi @ don't be strangers
Don’t Be Strangers

musings of a creative chimera + nowhere girl🌙🐉 ✨ illustrator, videographer, whatev-er. 📍 somewhere between knowing & searching (host of @dontbestrangers pod)