I think it’s easy to get caught up in our own day to day lives and become almost blind to the people we encounter as we go about our routines. We, as a society, have fallen away from tight knit communities and have an “every man for himself” mentality. We’re loners and I think this keeps us from really seeing those around us, from ever reaching out to learn more. We don’t look deeper to recognize that every person we encounter is so much more than meets the eye and that everyone has an important story inside.
I love people watching. My husband has learned to sit me in a booth facing away from the crowds when we go out for dinner because I get lost watching others and thinking about what stories they have. Going to football games or out shopping, or just anywhere, really, makes me wonder what kind of lives these people are living. It’s impossible to know, but fun to speculate.
I wonder what people think when they see me. What kind of life do I look like I have? What kind of stories do I seem to own? I’m just pretty average, a woman in my mid-30s with three kids and a husband. I stay at home. I homeschool. Some of this you can know just by looking at me, some you can’t. There’s so much more, though. The stuff that’s deep inside. My dreams. My hopes. My fears. My scars and battle wounds, and I don’t mean the external ones. All of the lessons I’ve learned, all of the mistakes I’ve made, all of the successes (and failures) I’ve had can’t be seen outwardly.
When I think about myself, when I really stop and take a personal inventory, I remember that I’m so very complicated. It’s hard, being as self-centered as I am, to realize that every single person out there has a story just as beautiful and hard and wonderful and terrible as my own. Yet few ever share those deepest parts of themselves. I know I rarely do. And if none of us are sharing the most important parts of ourselves, what are we giving to one another? Surface pleasantries? A smile and a “Hello” and “How are you” that’s always answered with “Fine?” We don’t go deeper. “Fine” is an acceptable answer. It’s expected. No stories are being shared. No bits of our souls bared to one another. Just casual niceties and casual friendships and casual lives while the stories inside us are aching to get out. Our hearts are bursting with the lives we’re living but we push everything in and down and keep it buried in ourselves and no one ever really gets to know who we are.
I don’t know if anyone knows me. My husband does. Some family. One friend. And that makes me so incredibly sad. It makes me realize that I probably don’t really know anyone, either. Of all the people I see on a regular basis, none know me and I don’t know them. I wonder if it’s this way for everyone. I wonder why we let it be this way when there could be so much more.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a life that’s being lived and battles that are being fought and joys that are being celebrated and we should share these parts of ourselves with one another. But we don’t. I don’t. I wouldn’t even know how to start.