Two years ago today, on September 15th, 2014, I posted a video to YouTube. In it, I approached several strangers and asked them, "What do you want to before you die?" I had wanted to make more meaningful connections with people and transcend small talk––so I called the project BIG TALK.
In the 731 days since, the idea and video have exceeded my expectations. BIG TALK has helped me to deepen every connection I make. It’s brought me closer to friends, peers, coworkers, family members, fellow travelers, and new acquaintances. Moreover, BIG TALK has helped me to better understand myself.
A year ago I recounted my experiences of starting BIG TALK in a TEDx talk. I’ve since received messages from people all over the world who joined this movement. In the past two weeks, I’ve spoken to: a woman in Germany who hosted a BIG TALK dinner; a teacher in rural India who led a seminar; college students in Canada who now run orientation activities modeled after BIG TALK. In the past seven days, I’ve received BIG TALK questions, ideas, and support from Singapore, Morocco, Brazil, Australia, Serbia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dubai, the UK, and Saudi Arabia - to name a few.
Despite what I’ve learned these past two years, I still struggle to answer the question: what is BIG TALK? BIG TALK means so much to me, it is difficult to distill into any singular thing. It is a communication research project, video storytelling series, global social movement, question card game, empathy building tool, online web platform (and those are only naming the ways in which I have used BIG TALK). Two years after its inception, BIG TALK is still evolving.
Most of all, BIG TALK is something I made to help mediate feelings of isolation and disconnection inherent in today’s world. I recently read a TIME.com article in which Justin Worland asserted loneliness to be “the next big public health issue.” I’ve faced feelings of detachment during transitions in my own life, and it hurts to think of anyone else going through the same. BIG TALK, I hope, can alleviate some of this pain. After it was first picked up by the Huffington Post, my world exploded with thoughtful messages and ideas… At twenty-years-old, I recorded a video promise to myself where I vowed to devote the next two years of my life to growing BIG TALK. I am now twenty-two -- I’ve kept my promise, and I’m not done yet.
I am so grateful for the support and connections I’ve felt with those who also value engaging and making meaningful connections with people near and far. And I am more determined than ever to embark on the next stages of BIG TALK and discover new relationships and collaborations to come!