I have had the privilege of meeting many people over the short course of my time on this planet. Some have had a greater impact than others, but all have changed me in some way or another. It’s a concept that we don’t often think about, but every interaction with every person changes us in some way or another, from the smile you give to a store clerk, to the intimate friendship that you share with a brother or sister. When I encounter another person, I’m faced with choices. Should I just smile and nod? Should I stop and have a conversation with her? Should I ignore him altogether? Every choice we make adds to who we are, and every person we meet presents with a choice.
I often struggle with how I should interact with certain people. My goal is to like everyone and be liked by the same, but I’m not always the most social butterfly you’ve ever seen flit by your window. In fact, I’ve been (probably aptly) described as a turtle–a not-quite anti-social turtle who likes his comfy little shell. At a party or in a crowd, I’m just as happy talking to one person about the ceiling tiles as I am hanging out in a group of people sharing jokes. I also don’t do well with truthfully intimate relationships.
I sometimes tend to be so guarded that every person who doesn’t know me extremely well knows and sees a different face, and perhaps the faces don’t even know each other. I destroyed one of the best friendships I’ve ever had with that behavior, and I have since learned quite a bit. I’d like to think that I have improved, overall, quite dramatically because of that one catastrophe. This post isn’t meant to be about me, however; this is a post about you.
If you’re reading this, you know who I am, or we’ve had some sort of interactions before. I would like to thank you. Thank you for entering my life, and thank you for shaping and changing and helping me to expand who I am. Even if the extent of our interactions was a small conversation or an exchange of WordPress or Facebook comments, you managed to impact my life in some tiny way. I have learned that even negative interactions are, in the long run, often positive, for unless the consequences are so severe that recovery is not possible, the lessons learned are as valuable, and perhaps even more so, than those taught by mere vocalization or demonstration.
This is a post for everyone; everyone who has ever entered into my sphere of life or whose sphere of life I have intruded. This is a post for those whom I have not yet met, but whom I will. This is a post for those whom I never will meet, for I think that it applies even to you.
Christmas is approaching, quite rapidly, and for some this is fantastic, but for others, this will be a depressing and gloomy time of year. Just remember, you have a choice with every interaction this season. You can smile and be a positive experience, or you can become a painful lesson to someone else. In the same way, you don’t have to take offense or react negatively to negative interactions this year. Be thankful for the positive, and learn from the painful. More easily said than done, right? Perhaps, but then again, we’ll never do anything if we don’t make a conscious decision to try, and maybe by trying, we’ll find that we can.
In closing, thank you for your interactions. Thank you for being there. You have made a difference, even if you don’t see it.