This I Believe

Anne - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on January 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Anne Walker I.

This I Believe

I believe that talking to people makes a difference. No, I don’t meant texting or messaging or dropping a “Hi, how are you.” I mean really talking to people, as in listening to what their perspectives are. Everyone has something to contribute to this world, and their opinions matter. Who cares what they are wearing? Who cares what they do for a living? They don’t go to the same church as you? So what! Just talk to them, and you will make a difference.

My mom has taught me this through her everyday life. She takes the time to talk to someone new almost everywhere she goes. Whenever she goes to the grocery store, she does not get the usual “Hello, ma’am.” Every checkout person, deli worker, and bag boy knows her first name. Not only that, but she knows theirs. She never just goes to our grocery’s deli. She will say, “I want to see what Alice is cooking today.” When she comes home, she will know exactly what is going on in Alice’s life only from the short time it takes to make a meat-and-three plate. But this doesn’t only happen at the grocery store. Every employee at the nail place knows her first name as well–and they speak very little English. She will return with freshly painted nails along with multiple stories about the owner’s three daughters and how they are doing in school. No matter where she is, my mom will talk to those around her.

I used to get annoyed with the way my mom was interested in everyone else’s lives. Why did it matter what our waiter would do on his day off? Who cares what kind of food the sales clerk enjoys? But as I have seen the way it affects people, I really admire my mom. While it may not seem very important, people really respond when you take the time to focus on them. Everyone at our grocery store lights up when my mom walks in, and I know it is not just because she is a good customer. They know that she cares, and it makes them feel good about themselves. I have found myself imitating my mom even in my own high school. Although others may judge me for talking to people who are not the most popular, I enjoy seeing the way people react when I become interested in them rather than myself.

Talking to people really does make a difference. Demonstrating this belief has helped me to establish friendships and connections that I would not have had otherwise. Not only does it encourage someone else, but it teaches you that you are not the center of the universe. So what do you have to lose? Go ahead, ask a more personal question than usual and see what happens.