Does everyone suffer from some kind of social anxiety?
Or am I the only one who feels awkward when I am alone in a hallway with someone walking the opposite direction and can’t decide where to look and when it’s okay to make eye contact and basically over-think everything?I know in my heart the kind thing to do is look at the person and smile or even say hi, but sometimes I just decide to look down and keep walking.
Being kind can actually be kind of scary sometimes. It can take us out of our comfort zones.
So, story time: A few months ago, I took a trip to California. I checked into my flight before I left- window seat. Score! I got on the plane and the person sitting in my row was a guy in his early 20’s. He had red hair and looked like a slightly bigger version of Ed Sheran. I sat down next to him and immediately put in my headphones; it was a 6am flight and I was tired. Five minutes into the flight, he tapped on my shoulder, “you can just punch me if I’m asleep and you need to use the bathroom.” We both chuckled and then I put in my headphones again. We both fell asleep shortly after.
I woke back up and saw him jamming out. He was head nodding and aggressively playing the air guitar with his iPhone. It was hilarious. Clearly, he did not care if anyone was watching.
I didn’t mention this earlier, but for some reason I was feeling extremely anxious on this flight which is rare because I love flying. I stared out the window and took deep breaths in attempts to rid myself of the nervous feelings. I shut my eyes briefly and then he tapped on my shoulder again, “hey can I share some music with you?”
Is this guy trying to sell me his music? I thought to myself, but I didn’t question him. I put in one ear bud and he had the other one in. Before he started to play it, he told me that he had been listening to this song when he was jamming out earlier and he wanted to share the experience with me. The music started playing and it turned out to not be his music, but religious music.
So this guy went out of his way just to share a feeling he received from this song with me- pure joy. For the first time during this flight I felt some peace.
Moral of the story?
Go out of your way to be kind. You really do not know what other people are going through. One small gesture can make that difference for them. Your actions affect people more than you think. Be vulnerable and be kind. It matters.