The People You Meet Along the Way

The most important lesson I've ever learned is that no one cares about you. Okay. I don't mean it like that. I can assure you, you are very loved and treasured. The most important lesson I've ever learned is that in those moments, where you are worried about the microscopic hole in your sweater, or pimple on your left cheek, people are not paying attention. Everyone else is worried about their own sweater holes and their own cheek pimples. 


And to be quite honest, it's a lesson I'm still learning. I am constantly reminding myself that it is okay my hair is messy in public or that I don't have the latest phone model. I am myself and that is more than okay. Others are probably not making any judgments about me. 


But I wouldn't say strangers haven't had an impact on me; strangers have made my day. Fleeting moments with strangers have changed my life. 


I think about the times where strangers have made me feel safe or welcome. I remember being about 14 years-old standing with my little sister in a comic bookstore. It took me to about age 20 to finally feel comfortable in a comic or game shop as a young woman. I've been challenged, I've been mocked, and I've heard every sexist comment a geek girl could hear, especially when I was younger. But at age 14, I happened to walk into a shop where another young girl was present. She had on a bright green cast and was reading Alan Moore's Watchmen. I remember looking at her. I remember making eye contact with her and feeling something. I felt like I finally belonged in one of these stores. 


Sometimes I think about my dad and his ability to strike a conversation with anyone. How he'll make friends with people in the crowd at a bar or a dealer at a record show. I've had an hour-long conversation about Bruce Springsteen with a man whose name I never learned. I remember thinking just how there are so many cool people in the world. 


I think about customers who made my days during rough shifts. At my previous retail job, I remember a particularly brutal shift where I was so angry, I was prepared to rip to shreds any customers who entered the store. Then a young man and his friend came in looking for colorful shoelaces. While I had to inform him we only had neutral colors, this man jokingly asked if there were any more risque, less-family friendly shoelaces that we had to keep in the back. I remember finding his joke so funny, my whole mood of the shift changed. 


For all of these people, who live in my memory, I remember smiles and jokes and kind words. I don't remember wrinkles or spots or stains. I probably never processed these things in the first place. 


These people, these strangers, changed my life for the better. We all change the world together.