While chatting with a buddy of mine this Friday, the conversation veered towards a dilemma that I’d been struggling with for the better half of a week. Tracy, another comrade whom buddy and I are both acquainted with, has been dealing with a tragedy that has affected her entire household. “How can I express my empathy towards Tracy, without being awkward or worse, making her feel uncomfortable?”, I asked. “That’s a sensitive situation”, buddy replied. And as we brainstormed further about solutions to this problem, the more irritated I became with myself. In exasperation, I asked, “why is expressing love, concern, and genuine kindness towards others–you’re not necessarily close with, so difficult?”
I thought further about this question throughout the day. And as I began completing my daily duties, I started noticing some things. Walking down the halls of the elementary school where I work, it has become second nature to me to greet the children, teachers, and other staff members. However, today I noticed more than usual that even kind gestures of saying, “Good morning” or “hi,” are not always reciprocated. Like little deer captured in head lights, the children (and unfortunately some adults) stand stunned after I greet them, awkwardly scurrying away to avoid any further contact.
Today, it seems that we are an impersonal nation: taught to not make new friends and intentionally guard ourselves from all forms of intimacy with others. Caring, sharing, love and support are agreeably reserved for our small close-knit circles. Thus, much of the time, we all are left lacking. We are lacking in hugs. We are lacking in concern for the fortunate and the less fortunate. And we are lacking in assurance that we all–every single individual on the face of this earth–matter.
And I get it. There’s many reasons (and excuses) to not get close and personal with strangers; there are people in this world who legitimately seek only to hurt others. However, I feel that the lack of vulnerability and openness in our society is a disservice to unity and positive interaction. So, I now understand that candidness and free expression must be retaught and relearned. We must teach our children that, in most cases, it’s okay to say hello to strangers. It’s okay to give a hug to someone who’s clearly hurting, and it’s okay to share yourself: in hopes to inspire, uplift and embrace others.
As more and more family members, friends, and associates become aware of this blog, the more I ask myself “how much of my life’s journey do I share with strangers?” Then I think about all that the world would lack of Cheryl, if I didn’t share my truth. And now I say, “I’ll share it all.” Someone out there needs to know that they aren’t alone in daily struggles, that life isn’t all peaches and cream, and that even the worst of obstacles: we can overcome. I also feel it’s important to show that no one is perfect; the same Cheryl that struggles to wake up in the morning, is the person smiling, laughing, motivating and encouraging others outside the home.
So, I’ve decided that I will not be the woman who doesn’t share her age, weight, or insecurities with the world. I will not be the person ashamed of my past, future, or present. And I will not be afraid to show compassion to individuals who aren’t in my social circle. I feel, more and more each day, that it is important to, at the very least, hear the experiences of people who aren’t like me. We all are valuable–not because of our commonalities, but
because of our differences. All of us combined make up a beautiful people. The faster that we as a nation understand that we need each other, the better our lives, the lives of our children, and generations of the future will be.
The purpose of this blog is to come from a place of love, strength, discovery and vulnerability. Please join me as I share my journey.