Just a simple post to help us love a little more and hate a little less. Have a little grace to connect with strangers in your life.
That Guy In The Bar
So I’m standing in yet another bar at a business networking event where many of us know each other, and here comes that guy. We’ve all seen that guy at one time or another. The stranger who comes stumbling up to a group of friends who are already knee-deep in conversation. He’s loud. He’s slurring. He stumbles. He interrupts and takes over the conversation. He spills somebody’s drink. And, yeah, he’s inappropriate. To say the least. It was funny for a second. But after a while, it got really old and people started to get mad. Me included. The nerve of this guy was the recurring thought. In a world where people are expected to act a certain way, it makes sense that some in the group would decide to handle the situation by putting this guy in his place. But when anger confronts drunk, well, it just doesn’t go well. You can’t fight alcohol with logic. But this story isn’t about them or even that guy. It’s about me. Me in that moment.
I was as angry at this guy as the rest of them. How dare him? Who does that? Creep! Go bother someone else! Somebody needs to handle this jerk. Those were the thoughts running through my head. The ones I can repeat. There were a few others. Hey, what can I say? I’m not always kind in my head. But standing there in that bar, the world paused, and I remembered the words a friend once told me: Everybody has a story that will break your heart. When I heard those words and looked at that guy, suddenly I saw him through an entirely different lens.
While I looked at him, I saw that woman I once knew who had lost her child and was never able to find her way to happy again. I saw the man who’s wife left him and he’s just lonely all the time. I saw the vet still suffering from what he lived all those years ago. The guy who lost his business and can’t find anyone to hire him. The one who made a mistake that cost him everything. The one fighting something beyond her ability to fix it. Or the person who simply has nowhere else to go. In that one moment I realized that behind that guy is always another story. A story that will break your heart. And one day, somebody will be looking at me – calling me that girl and I hope that for my sake, they will have a little grace, and look for a deeper story.
People often ask me my secret. How am I able, as a motivational speaker, to connect in a way that makes strangers feel like instant friends? How is it that the person in that audience is convinced I am talking directly to them when there are hundreds of others in the room? I don’t really know the full answer. But I know one piece of it. I work really hard to see the story in people, and let them know, even if it’s just on a subconscious level, that they matter. That what we see, or what they think we see, is not always who they really are. I think the world is full of broken people just like that guy – who are waiting for us to help them rewrite their story. And sometimes it doesn’t start with them, it starts with me.
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