I bawled my eyes out, the tears streamed for an entire morning, I was spent. Sometimes you just gotta cry, get it out. For days I had been contemplating my place in this world and whether it was time to recognize that my dreams were a thing of the past. Maybe I was just too physically drained to do anything other than exist. The acceptance and realization that there is nothing wrong with ‘just’ existing is difficult for me, although I know it to be true.
Back to the tears. I’d shared a post on my Instagram stories from Simon Sinek: “Invest in relationships. Life is hard. None of us has the strength to do it alone. We need people to encourage and inspire us so we can encourage and inspire others.” I went to bed, ho hum, happy to share Simon’s sage wisdom, sad that I felt my own soul fading.
“Shandra! I love this and you! Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration. You exude loving support and I am deeply influenced by your kindness. You’re remarkable!” That was what I woke up to, in response to my having shared that Sinek post. Dallas, the giver of those words, is a former colleague from my days at GE. We’ve remained connected through the benefit of social media, and it’s at moments like this that I find myself truly grateful for it. He couldn’t have known the internal dialogue I was struggling with.
“Dallas. I can’t stop crying since I read your response. I went to sleep last night thinking maybe it was time to “hang up my skates” (he was a figure skater) and just live quietly without feeling compelled to help or encourage or use my voice. No one would really care or miss it because someone else would pick up the slack. There was some despair to that thought process. I know better but it’s just where I’ve been at.” (Three months later as I still try to write this, tears are flowing.)
Dallas and I had developed a connection at work, sitting beside each other and engaging in sometimes deep conversation when we weren’t handling calls. If you’ve ever seen or read those “Unlikely Friendships” books about animals, that would be a great analogy for us. He was young and finding his way, I was in my 40’s raising babies, but somehow we ‘got’ each other. I loved him then – yes, we can love our co-workers – and I love him now. Those words are never lost on me or used lightly, and that connection has brought healing to me now.
He continued our Instagram conversation with an offer to talk if I ever needed to. “I would be happy to return the kindness you provided to me. You were a great listener at a time when I had a lot going on in my head space. Releasing it helped me to ease the confusion and gain clarity.” That. Right there. He did return the kindness with his words. He also helped me gain some clarity of my own in that moment.
It struck me deeply for some reason, more than at other times when I’ve doubted myself. The tears were a good indicator. It’s not the first time I’ve questioned my place in this world and I’m guessing most of you reading this can relate. It’s not the last time either, as I’ve navigated these past several months with that question niggling at my core. I think maybe it was partly because I didn’t remember. I didn’t remember being that kind of person to Dallas, but I am so, so glad I was.
We have no measurement in a moment, to know when we will be someone’s safety net, when our humanity can interconnect and support one another. I can tell you I have had more than my fair share of loving, supportive humans in my life, being the wind beneath my wings and food for my soul. When a word, a smile, a conversation at work, a DM on Instagram can shift someone’s mental health, I say why not do more of that?
Creating and nurturing connections, friendships, relationships with others, is necessary for our well being. Moments, conversations, reaching out when someone crosses our mind, these are the treasures that can take someone from despair to hope. And we all know how much hope we need right now, more than ever.
Be someone’s light. Remind someone that they’ve been a light for you. Just know it will come back to you when you most need it and least expect it.
It’s moments like these.