You know how it goes. You have just met, and it is your chance to ask some questions to someone you are likely attracted to.
It gets sexual. It also gets predictable. Snooze.
I always thought of "21 questions" as a way to get to know someone as a human being: all the little "ins and outs," the backstories and the silly habits. You can throw a few "Would you rathers" in there and ask who the person I lost my virginity to is if you feel it's necessary, but I like to think I could find other things I want to know about a person.
Keep it fun, but please give me something a little thought-provoking, eh? This is an outline of some of the questions I have asked all kinds of people, from my best friend to my potential significant other.
Hell, I've even asked them to myself. Give them a try some time:
1. Who has creatively influenced you the most?
I always considered art to be one of the only things humans can create that does not hurt others or their surroundings. I want to know who inspires you to put things out into the world.
Maybe it's the Monet hanging from your aunt's wall, or maybe it's your aunt herself. If you don't consider yourself to be creatively inclined, consider why that is.
2. How do you greet your family members?
I have been overwhelmed before by a past boyfriend's family simply because they were different. They were completely lovely, but I wasn't prepared.
So, do you wave, nod or go in for a big cuddle and kiss? Understanding a person's family dynamic can often help explain his or her character traits, and can give you a heads up if you ever meet said family.
3. Do you love what you're doing with your life?
You don't have to know where you'll end up. No one has a clue.
I do, however, love talking to people when they are enthusiastic about their day-to-day choices. If you aren't fully loving your work, hobbies or social life, why are you participating in them?
4. What is your typical order at Subway?
This question is only because if you are friends with me, there is every guarantee we will end up there every few days. My order is steak and cheese with extra pickles, and ranch sauce is essential. Heaven.
5. What are your fears?
The human brain is an amazing thing, and fear is a fundamental emotion. Some people have fears that dictate their everyday lives, and others have fears they never come across.
If you tell me about your vulnerabilities, I start to see a real person. Additionally, the presence of fears means the presence of strength.
Have you ever conquered your fears? Do you believe you could?
6. Do you feel as though you are overly attached to your phone?
I'm a little worried that I expect news too instantly, only recognize my face when it's filtered and worry about the number of "likes" I've received on my dinner.
Why am I even showing people my dinner? I love technology, but I can now confidently say that I can leave my phone in the other room and not even think twice. Can you?
7. When was the last time you thought, "I wish time would just stop, and I could be here forever?"
We, as humans, live through experience. Often, there are breathtaking moments, like when you're standing on a cliff, overlooking one of the world's most beautiful areas, or when you're in bed, cuddled up to your 2-year-old son.
There are times when we all wish we could be stuck in a moment forever.
8. If you had a time machine, would you go to the past or the future?
Would you go back to see a loved one, or would you go forward in order to predict the next lottery numbers? Some people I know aren't particularly inclined to do either.
Alas, "bad things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Harry."
9. What is more important to you, money or being satisfied with your job?
It's not like there is a right or wrong answer here. Some people say money. Maybe they have families to support.
Some say job satisfaction. It's interesting to know where other people's priorities lie.
10. What is some advice you would give to yourself five years ago, if you could?
Zoe, you will make bad decisions. People will walk away, you will feel sad and, retrospectively, sh*t will hit the fan.
Remember: "Even amongst fierce flames, the golden lotus can be planted." You will be a better person because of all the things you had to go through. You have this.
11. If you could combine any two halves of any two animals to create a new species, what would you choose?
Mine would combine the tentacles of an octopus with the neck and head of a giraffe. These animals would be about 7 centimeters tall and found in rock pools.
Show me that you can think outside the box and be a little crazy too.
12. Got a favorite album? Song? Band?
I've said it a million times, but the music people listen to says more about them than anything else. There is a reason music therapy exists, after all. It drills down to the core of a person's happiness or unhappiness.
It is powerful and intriguing.
13. What is your favorite feature about yourself?
I have this little freckle on the inside of my right ring finger. I used to hate it growing up, but now, I adore its random little presence.
Learning to love little parts of yourself is so important. Why should you not share what makes you feel good about it all?
14. Where is your favorite place in the world?
Some people are homebodies and love their beds, while others love little cafes in Paris or their homestays in villages in Nepal. Talking about the reasons why you love a place opens up a million stories about the things that happened there.
15. What are three qualities you look for in the relationships you form?
People's past experiences make them look for certain qualities in their friendships or partners. For example, if you have been lied to, honesty might be one of the qualities. You will learn a lot from the answers.
16. What cheers you up?
I ask this so I can win Best Friend Of The Year Award and bring around your favorite ice cream flavor and movie ASAP.
17. Has anything ever happened to you that has made you question a phenomenon or higher power?
Some people have experienced some really weird and crazy things. These are things you may not be able to fully explain, but they are extremely interesting either way.
18. Do you have any great drunken stories?
Everyone loves a story, especially when it involves your drunken self at 3 am, on stage, grinding on a DJ to Jazzy Jeff's "Boom! Shake The Room."
19. Your house is on fire. Which one item would you grab?
This one's a bit of fun, but it also gets you thinking, "What really does actually matter in my home?"
Is it the items in my house that make it my home? What have I worked so hard for that I can't live without?
20. What annoys you the most about people?
I once got asked this in a job interview, and I answered that it was people's closed-mindedness. I did not try to sugarcoat it or say I never get annoyed because I believe I am always going to clash with someone.
If there's a quality you can't stand in others, it probably means you're actively trying to avoid it in yourself.
21. What is the biggest lie you have told? Do you regret it?
There's nothing you can do to change your past, but recognizing your dishonesty is the only way to become a decent person.
As for me? “I don't love you.”
Yes, I will always regret it, but I am not ashamed.
There you go. There is so much to know about the people around you. Give them something to think about, and they might just shock you. Start talking about the real stuff, and have fun.