As I was walking my son to school this morning he casually said, “Mom, it’s funny how popular I am. I was just playing soccer with these kids and after I heard someone else call out their name, I turned and called out their name to have them pass the ball to me. Now when I walk through school, little kids, even kindergartners, know my name and say hi. When I was a kindergartner, nobody knew who I was.”
I knew what he was getting at, not the actual aspect of popularity, but why things changed from kindergarten to now.
He couldn’t quite figure out how people knew who he was now even if he didn’t necessarily know them.
I replied, “That’s because you talk a lot more now. You didn’t talk much in kindergarten. The more you say hi to people and interact, the more people you will know and the more people will know you. You will have many more opportunities in life simply because you talk to people.”
He paused for a moment, thinking about what I just said. I could tell he was milling the idea over, especially since just last night he said, “Mom, this teacher always asks my brother questions, even when I am standing there. Why does that happen?”.
He is my quiet kid. The one that will shyly look up at adults in public as his vocal and super friendly twin brother engages in a lively conversation with practically anyone.
His brother takes after me.
I will say hi to anyone.
I start conversations with random people when I am walking down the street, waiting at the school playground, in line at the post office, shopping in Target etc.
I am one of those people who sees life as full of opportunities. Opportunities to meet people, opportunities to learn more and opportunities to grow.
I find it fascinating to hear people’s stories. I almost always learn something new from talking to a stranger. It makes me grow or at least puts a smile on my face (or theirs).
I have had great, incredible opportunities fall into my lap because I started a conversation with a random stranger or because I asked someone how their day was.
I often get hugs at Trader Joe’s when I walk into the store.
I met one of my good friends on a playground and a few years later was at her son’s birth as a labor coach to her.
I have been able to help someone I don’t even know make a decision about something or make a greater impact on their life, simply because they had someone to ask a question to.
Perhaps my son had never thought of himself as being friendly because I am soooo friendly.
As we walked, I told him the story of how life is about perspective and what you put out there you get back in return.
Let me tell you a little story I proceeded…As you know I talk to everyone. I feel very included in this life. I have had many conversations with people who feel left out. They feel like people only talk to others and never to them. They feel like the world is not open to them, that they are excluded. When I ask these people if they have ever randomly said hi to someone new, their answer is always the same. “No.” Do you see how they create their own reality from their perspective?
He looked at me and nodded.
A few minutes later as he walked up the sidewalk to school one of his good friends jumped out of the car. In the past, my son would shyly look his way, but today he turned his whole body to his friend (not just a slight turn of the head) and smiled. They were soon laughing over something.
Right there I knew he was living out what he just processed on that walk. He realized that he was the creator of his life, that his confidence and seizing of opportunities comes from within.
When I returned home after our walk I read something that made me think about this even more.
Someone had posted how things go wrong because of the forces of evil that are out there. I wanted to comment and say, “Yes and the biggest force of evil is in our own head.”
When we think that good and bad happens because of some kind of force outside of us, then we slink away from responsibility.
We as a society often slink away from realizing that it is our own actions, either in our head or those we share with the world, that determine what happens. We assume that we are left out because someone meant it, when in reality we didn’t even glance their way for more than two seconds, we didn’t attempt to engage on our part or we came in with a grudge or cold shoulder.
We assume that an opportunity was given to someone else because they were lucky, when in reality, the opportunity was presented and we missed seizing it out of fear or lack of even looking for it.
Opportunities present themselves everyday. Situations occur all the time. While we may not be able to change a situation immediately, we can change how we perceive it. How we think about it, how we react to it.
The funny thing about perspective is that we often assume that everyone holds our own.
We gauge how we see the world and what happens to us from our own perspective, forgetting that if we looked at something a little differently it may be a whole different story. Too often we also base our self confidence on a narrow or skewed perspective.
When I was studying to be a sociologist, one of the theories that hit me the strongest was the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy -the idea that if we think something, we will look for ways to confirm it.
The truth is that when we look for ways to confirm things, they are always from our own perceptive.
Think the glass is half empty or half full, they both are “right.”
The world is yours.
Don’t wait for it to pass by, don’t think opportunities will arrive with some big obvious sign above them saying, HERE I AM. A GREAT OPPORTUNITY. TAKE ME NOW!
Engage with the world! Shed the lens of self.