Be Kind to Strangers
It’s been a rough month. I’ve been lost, I’ve been sick, wallowing in self-pity. I’ve seen more rain flooding the streets of Sydney than I’ve ever seen in notoriously-wet London.
On this particular day, it was windy and raining. My plans to cozy up in a cute cafe by the water to work were foiled. I was underdressed to brave the pouring rain that left me shivering and wet. I was lamenting the fact that I had paid way too much for a simple juice I should’ve probably made at home.
Long story short, I was in the pits.
Suddenly, a man who’d been sitting in the cafe since I entered, packed up his things to leave. But instead of heading into the hurricane-like weather, he turned and bee-lined to my table.
“You should walk around with confidence today because that skirt looks great on you,” he said to me.
I barely knew what to say. I managed to get a ‘thank you’ out before he nonchalantly left the table and braved the rain outside.
That was almost two weeks ago and I still remember what he said with such vividness. It turned my day around. Hell, it turned my month around a little.
At that time, he would have no idea how much I needed to hear that. And he had no other agenda than to just bring joy to another person.
Sure, I had a few stray thoughts go through in my head. Why did he say this? Did he want something? Was it slightly creepy? Was this somehow against my feminist agenda?
But instead, I felt guilty and a little sad that I would question a simple moment that made me happy.
We put up all these walls against strangers.
I’m not saying that there’s no merit in teaching kids not to accept candy from strangers. But at the same time, it builds a great mistrust agains the whole word.
Everyone is but a stranger till we start talking to them. But if we are predisposed to mistrust that, it’s like assuming someone’s guilt before a fair trial.
We forget that back before the friend apps or friends or friends, making friends was easy. It’s who you ended up in the sandpit with. It started with a simple hi.
It’s how I make friends on the road. You start a conversation in the dorm room of your hostel, you say hi to someone at the bar or you just ask a local for directions. These moments of interaction - even the micro ones - is how we start feeling connected with the rest of the world and realise that, while positivity starts with us, it is meant to be shared.
It’s been no coincidence that I’ve been recently drawn to the work of Yes Theory.
In a quest to regain my mojo, I’ve found their message of positivity and embracing discomfort to be an inspiration.
Somehow they’ve been able to articulate the lessons I’ve learned over the past year about saying yes to the unexpected opportunities that arise and learning to thrive in the discomfort, and create inspiring and cool content from it.
But most importantly, it’s about realising the affect that the people around us have on us and vice versa.
Strangers don’t have to be a stranger. By being open to new opportunities and new friends, we get to live a life we never expected for ourselves. We become receptors for more things, better things.
And the most we can do is live our lives by a philosophy of positivity and progress. Because you never know who might just need to hear the words you have to say.