I have recently chosen to appreciate every face-to-face connection that I experience which has meant that I pay more attention to strangers than ever before.
I smile. I start the conversation first. I ask. I help. I respond without looking away if someone talks to me. Because after all, we are all the same aren’t we?
I’ve never been narrow-minded or judgmental (at least I’ve been trying not to be) but my new way of being even more open came when I met someone new. We started talking and couldn’t stop, so we agreed to grab a coffee and something to eat and we ended up listening to one another for several hours. Me… with a stranger?! Almost impossible at that time.
But something remarkable happened inside my mind. As he proposed coffee grabbing and food eating, I was ready to run away as I had always been doing in this kind of situation, but when I was close to the running away point I thought to myself… “what is the worst thing that can happen?”. Of course the conclusion was… “nothing”. As we started seeing each other more often we developed a certain sense of mutual understanding and this was the most crucial turning point in my life so far, as I realised how little is needed to actually connect to a person. Since then my mind became an adventure seeking traveller, an ocean of ideas, free interpretations, the bottomless pool of understanding, an empathy volcano. This feeling of abundance has been present within me almost constantly so far. Why I say “almost” is what I want to share with you particularly.
Although, all of these positive emotions accompany me every day, I recently started to regret my openness.
I let so many people in my life that I quickly lost control over every single relationship. From the point of being absolutely euphoric and sociable I became anxious, nervous and full of guilt whenever I couldn’t meet everybody who expected me to do so. With no time for everybody I realised that I was doing something wrong. I had all these wonderful people around me wanting to meet me but did I actually know them? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the answer was obviously “no”. So why did I let myself dive into so many shallow, potentially meaningless, not-certain-if-I-can-meet-you-again relationships and sacrificed my own well-being?
To be completely honest with you, I am not sure. What I do know is that I misunderstood the concept of being open and empathetic towards one another. I was trying to not to cross anyone off at the beginning of the conversation and unfortunately that led me to these uncomfortable situations full of “I am sorry, I don’t have time”, even though I did.
I sacrificed my own sanity in exchange of being polite and positive towards everybody and everyone.
And, unfortunately, this road that I took turned out to be a very rocky one. Studded with disappointment, guilt, hard feelings and one more disappointment. I believe in true interpersonal connections, with a meaning, with a purpose, with a mutual understanding and compassion.
My friend, whom I introduced at the beginning of this story, showed me that we all have something in common. We are all connected, believe it or not. The universe knows best what is right or wrong for us and that there are no coincidences. We just need to be very cautious, selective and aware of who we invite into our lives. Think of all relationships you have with other people. Think which of them are meaningful, from which you actually benefit as a conscious human being and which of them makes you a better person.
I am not telling you to avoid people. I am telling you to appreciate them, let them in and decide whether they make you and your life more beautiful or not. Make your choice. You do deserve it and you do have it. Don’t be polite, giving and caring at all costs. Love yourself first.
Written by Anna Switala