Listen carefully. I am going to tell you a secret.
Are you ready?
Are you listening?
Here it is:
Last night I went to an excellent community conversation/forum about bullying, which you will hear more about as time passes. I came away with a ton of ideas, and a ton of things to think about, and a big ol’ boatload of determination that the next time I see someone being bullied, by gosh, I am going to say something about it. And one of the points that came up at this forum was that even if you can’t fix the problem–can’t stop the bully, can’t do so safely, don’t know how to intervene, etc–you can at least be there afterwards. One of the panelists remarked that you’d be surprised at how much impact you can have if you just walk up to the victim later and say “I saw what happened, and man, that was just wrong“. You can have a massive impact by inviting the “weird” coworker to sit with you at lunch. You can completely flip someone’s day around just by taking a second to do something positive for them, like slipping an “actually, I think you’re really awesome. love, your secret admirer” note through their locker door.
Here’s the thing: once you meet someone, you get written into their life story. Every. Single. Person. You. Meet. If you have encountered another human being, you are already having an impact on their day. Think about that for a second–even if all you did was pass them in the aisle at the grocery store, you are a part of their world. Sure, maybe your role in the credits of their biopic is going to be listed as “Woman at Grocery Store #7”, but you and you alone have the ability to upgrade that to “Smiling Woman at Grocery Store” (alternately, you can downgrade yourself to “Cranky Woman at Grocery Store”).
You can be Smiling Friend at Aquarium Who Turned Around Social Anxiety Character’s Day.
You can be Nurse Who Brought Can of Coke and Was Nominated for President.
You can be Friend Who Saved Friend’s Life By Telling Him, at Exactly the Right Moment, That “You Matter“.
Or you can be just another blip on the radar, sailing through unaware. The choice is yours.
So what will your role be? Do you want to strap on your superhero cape and be the person who made today salvageable for someone who had a rocky start, or do you want to be Woman in Grocery Store #7?
Personally, I’m opting for the cape.