Anonymity of Strangers

Photo from Nuno Silva on Unsplash

When I first started the Wise Not Withered project, I knew I was going to learn a lot: I’ve interviewed wise women from my life, and have met so many people from all over the world in the recruitment process. I’ve learned important life lessons from each of the women I’ve interviewed, and I’ve learned a bit about different cultures by talking with everyone that has joined the team so far.

There are other lessons, though, that have come up during this endeavor of mine that I never saw coming. One of those life lessons is how I feel about strangers these days.

I admit, I used to be someone who would often, readily judge strangers: someone honking at me on the road, people behind me in line talking about something I personally considered inane, someone wearing an outfit I found unflattering… The list goes on.

Since I’ve started searching for and sending cold emails to literally random people on the internet, I have come to realize that every person is well, a person. At this point I have sent probably over 300 messages/emails to various artists all over the world, and had conversations with close to 100.

With each person that has responded to me, either positively or negatively, it has just made me realize how individual each person is. Each person has her own life. Each person has her own dreams and aspirations, fears and limitations.

Each person is going through something.

A few weeks ago when I was trying to parallel park near my boyfriend’s house, someone driving behind me leaned on their horn, zoomed around me, rolled down their window to yell something, then sped off. It wasn’t until then that I realized I haven’t been judging strangers as often, if at all, anymore. I wasn’t offended when that person yelled at me. My immediate thought was, “Wow, I wonder what kind of day he’s having.

And I honestly don’t think I would gotten to this mindset without this project, at least not right now. In my interview with Karen Queally, she mentioned how she doesn’t hang up on people calling her to do a survey. Perhaps she planted the seed that slowly grew and bloomed within me.

With the sheer number of people I have been interacting with, it has just gotten to a point where I simply cannot afford to judge (read: spend my limited amount of energy to care about) everyone that speaks negatively to me or worse, never gets back to me.

In any context, every time I judge someone, it takes up space… energy… emotion… that I could be using more deliberately and productively toward something else—something that actually matters. ♥

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