Do you ever think about how you got here? Not to this physical place, but to this point in life. I always say, “I love people.” Strange, coming from an introvert. What I mean is that people intrigue me. What makes people act the way they do? I fully believe people act, respond and interact based on their experiences and circumstances, but more importantly their mindset. This is not revolutionary, but let me explain. I believe being human is a messy business. I would add that I believe life and people are a messy, but interesting business. I mean, how could you not?
I am an introvert (who is also an extrovert–yes, it is possible), which means I would choose to sit and talk to the same person all night or at least until someone else comes along. I love to talk to people, but prefer not to have to initiate it. If you are reading this and don’t believe it, it is because you are “in”. I have different rules for those who I already know and love. Anywho, How did I get to this place? A place of acceptance mixed with a strong opinion. Evolution.
Life’s experiences have helped me evolve into this person that I am okay with (a confident person with a bit more than a hint of self doubt). I look back at how I grew up. I always thought of our family as the textbook family. Four kids with married, hardworking parents, nice house, regular family dinners, the list goes on. We are a family rich with traditions and still have our mother living in our childhood home. What we really are is lucky and a bit messy. The luck is the fact that we span four generations. The mess is simply due to the fact that we are made up of a variety of unique individuals.
I think the beginning of my evolution was the summer my father died. It made me start to see things from others’ perspectives. I really must have been self-centered or self-absorbed prior to that summer. I would say that I am sorry for that, but part of evolution is that you have to start somewhere to end up here, so no apologies.
Some weeks after my father died, I was at a local department store. As I approached the counter and the clerk asked, “How are you today?” It stopped me in my tracks. A common interaction that we, as humans, likely have multiple times per day. I looked up at her and squeaked out, “Fine, thank you.” when I really wanted to say, “My dad just died!” She must have wondered why my eyes had welled up, if I really was fine. The “you never know what someone is dealing with, so always be kind” never had any meaning to me until that moment. This was a typical interaction and she was just shy of getting a sadsacker earful. I spared her that, which was lucky for both of us. From that day on, I have worked hard to remember that the person who is being rude to the store employee, the waiter that is forgetful, or the coworker who is short with someone (maybe me) has something else going on that we don’t understand or know. I am not perfect at this and I really hope that others keep this in mind when I am not perfect in other ways.
This is the first step in my evolution.