Today, riding home on the metro, my cell phone had died on me. Shocking right, my supposedly state of the art technology cell phone cannot hold a charge for a full day of activities. Through the death of my cell phone, I enjoyed one of my favorite activities-people watching. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy sitting in a crowd of people and making up back stories for them. To the guy sitting on the other side one row up with a messenger bag. I see the El Salvadorian and Indian flag stitched on your bag. I can only assume that is where your parents came from. Also, that thing you have been scrolling through on your phone, it has to be an email from a loved one abroad. You are reading it too intimately for it to be a sibling, maybe a parent or significant other. To the man directly in front of me in the baseball cap. Your High and Tight cut screams ex-military, where did you serve? What was your unit? Also, the 9/11 pin in your hat tells me you might have known someone who perished in that attack. Who were they to you? What is it like to still remember them after 11+ years?
My experience on the metro today got me thinking about something. The seed was probably planted in the conversations I enjoyed earlier in the day, but nonetheless, it was there. A great quote to introduce this is from Shrek. Yes, I know, my second children’s movie reference in as many posts, but I often find them highly applicable. “An ogre is like an onion, it has layers.” What a profound observation for such a young audience to experience. The quote attacks and exposes the essential theme of the post. Who has seen your layers and who have you asked about theirs?
I am the quintessential definition of an oversharer. I tend to tell people far too much about myself or my experiences. I will tell stories that glorify me, embarrass me, or just make me look like an idiot. I love sharing myself with people. It makes me relatable. I will not tell someone else’s secret or divulge something told to me in confidence, but if it is about me, I am typically ok with it getting out. I had two conversations, at different points of the day, where I realized this fact about me and it really got my mind going on a thought.
When was the last time you asked someone what was wrong and genuinely meant it? When was the last time you thought someone had the “perfect” life? When were you jealous of someone else for living your dream?
It is so easy to sit down and think that other people have it so easy or so great. Well, I will share with you, rarely is anyone’s life a walk in the park.
I am at a unique point in many friendships out here in DC. We are just getting comfortable enough to really talk with one another about our lives and what is going on. It is the start of awesome friendships I can tell. Yet it got me to thinking, why don’t we peel back the layers on one another more often?
I will admit I am better at this with some people than I am with others. I rarely peel back the layers to learn more about my family. My brothers who I love so much, my parents who mean the world to me, my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and everyone else. The people who mean the most to me. Why am I so bad with them? Maybe because they are too close, maybe because you always wonder what peeling back the layers will teach you about them and more importantly about yourself. I want to be there for these people, but I do feel like it requires me to do a little peeling.
I tend to be far more likely to peel back the layers with friends. Maybe I know they don’t have to love me, maybe I feel more on par with them, I am not sure, but whatever it is I definitely am more ready to jump in and ask them what is wrong and mean it. I am happy to lend an ear, be a shoulder to cry on, or offer the right words at the right moment.
Let us be honest, who has not lost a loved one suddenly or far too early? Who has not felt the sting of unrequited love? Who has not fought with their parents or felt distant from a loved one? We all have! Every single one of us has suffered and felt loss. We all have faced down our demons to meet a new day. We all have learned to conquer seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve amazing things. Even if that amazing thing is just getting out of bed the morning after the worst day of your life.
Why can we not peel back the layers on one another and trust that the other person does want the best for us? We all face burdens and it just takes a simple sentence, “are you ok? How is everything with…?” The words will require you to listen to the response and not just let your mind wander to what is next. Although, you cannot be a great friend or amazing loved one without asking these words and meaning them.
I ask something of each of you. Please take the time to reach out to someone you love or just if you see a friend struggling ask them what is wrong. Help them to carry the cross. Even if you just offer a hand for a few moments, that could be all they need to make the load a little lighter. Engage with one another and share a moment of humanity. I assure you all of us struggle no matter how great of a face we put on or the strength we can muster. Reach out and understand one another. It is a great feeling to know you have offered someone strength to carry on.
I know this one was longer, but it truly comes from the heart for me. Really, do this more often! No one can walk the path alone! Until next time, be safe and make good decisions…