I know what it’s like to be rushed, to see an opportunity for conversation with a stranger, and question whether you have the energy for it. Trust me; it’s often worth the effort to opening up to strangers. A stranger can become a friend. It is a wondrous thing, particularly during the festive season!
I regularly attend an educational centre with my child, and the lady serving me at the café seemed standoffish, to the point of coldness. I persisted with my smiles and small talk over many months, and when I expressed concern that she looked exhausted, she opened up. She was working three jobs, and her little boy was unwell. She had taken him to a specialist, who had charged her a whole week’s worth of income! “Oh sweetheart, I know what it’s like to feel like you are working so hard, and yet seem to be getting behind,” I told her. We chatted further, and I told her of my medical bills. Two women sharing their experiences. At the least, it makes you feel less alone. To my delight, the next time I saw her, she looked well-rested and was smiling. Our relationship had reached a higher level, and she now returns my banter.
The other day, I caught a train to an art class. I craved caffeine but it was blisteringly hot so I cracked a cold can of diet cola. Caught up in my phone, my sunhat hiding my head, I didn’t see the lady take the seat opposite. “I love your hat,” she smiled, pointing to the bronze beauty with gold sequins adorning my head. I glanced at her turquoise yoga pants, funky top and told her I adored her look. She took out a diet cola from her bag, and laughed. “My only vice!” It turned out that she was a health freak and was drinking her caffeinated beverage before counselling people on their health. I laughed and said I was clandestinely drinking it before I met my healthy friends at pottery class. She told me that she is writing a book, but is filled with self-doubt. “You are meant to write this, or you wouldn’t have been given the impetus to do so,” I urged. We need to read each other’s words. What sweet relief it is to know that somebody else has felt the same way and experienced the same things in this world!
I told her that my daughter is home schooled and her eyes lit up. Turns out her sister was thinking of doing the same with her three children. I was able to give her advice and we exchanged details so we can keep in touch. All this came about in a short twenty-minute trip. I felt as though I had known her forever.
It is great to have boundaries; to have a sense of who has dubious energy and listen to your vibes. However, you also give yourself an enormous gift by smiling at the occasional stranger, complimenting them, and asking how their day is going. We are all in this together, after all!