People come into your life at different points of time not by mere chance but by a greater mechanism to teach you a lesson. That lesson can be inspirational, heart wrenching or a wake-up call.
I recently attended a conference and was surprised by the amount of people I got to meet and interact with. More importantly, I was intrigued. Why am I meeting these particular people? What does it mean to me?
Does this ever happen to you? Let’s explore together.
Let’s start by introducing you to Sally. Sally is a recent graduate of a prestigious institution and recently found out she was pregnant. Sally has a stable job, stable home life and can provide you with whatever answer you seek. In essence, she’s the person I tend to stay away from; the perfect know it all. I was polite to an extent and then the gloves were off when she insulted my intelligence and didn’t give me respect. We sparred on all types of topics; college, motherhood, money and professionalism. Not once could she entertain another person’s ideas. Not once could she admit she never thought another way. Finally, I did what any diva would do and schooled her on her own foolish thinking. I am almost ten years her senior, it was my public service to her. That and I just like to argue with people, it is as genetic as my root color.
Then I got to thinking. Why did I meet her? Perhaps it was to motivate me to write pieces of prose like this. Perhaps me meeting her, wasn’t as important as she meeting me. Follow? Perhaps this young lady who lacks humility and understanding needed to meet a strong, open minded woman who could try to beat a little sense into her, before her new born comes into the world. It is easy when you’re young to think you have all the answers. It’s easy when you’re fresh out of school to think you have the latest and greatest book education and that, of course, trumps real life experience. But it doesn’t. Sally has a lot of growth to do and hopefully she can learn from her fellow cohorts to smile, be polite and listen for once.
The one woman I befriended, let’s call her Mary, was someone I had to meet. Mary is a single mom of three adult children who went back to school at 40 to become a registered nurse. She’s now approaching 60 and was in the course to hone additional skills. Talk about driven and motivated by passion! She was quiet, extremely polite and soft spoken. Mary is an example of her generation and experience, while being a quiet fighter and survivor. I told her as much. Then she told me something that floored me. She told me she admired me. She couldn’t believe what I do, professionally and personally. She told me women of my generation have it so much tougher because we have to do it “all,” referencing child rearing and a career. I told her we just do what we do to make it work. But, then I realized something – Take the compliment. Say, “thank you.” Acknowledge it is okay to accept the wondrous things I do perform on a daily basis. In addition to taking the compliment, I shared with her some of my louder, more out spoken philosophies, and urged her to take control of her office.Remind those young ladies she manages that she is the boss. I would say our chance encounter was mutual. She slipped me a note and said thank you for teaching her how to “right her ship”. I thanked her for the kind words and good stories. I slipped her my card and asked to keep in touch.
The moral of this story? You never know who you are going to meet and why. I believe we meet people and they meet us out of universal necessity to teach us things we need to learn. The difficult portion of this equation is learning when we are the student and when we are the teacher. I think we can be both simultaneously. I will know how I look if I emulate some of Sally’s egregious behaviors. Conversely, if I could share my outspoken personality and lend someone some of my confidence as I hope I did with Mary, then I won. I got to teach someone and that makes for a good day.
Denise Bennett is our fashion and lifestyle columnist. She also maintains a fashion blog at Perfect20.co.