Welcome All into Your Life
Who is that girl over there? She looks different; she has nothing that would ever concern me. These thoughts used to race through my mind every time I noticed someone I did not recognize. It took only one day to alter my thinking and that change of mindset still affects me every single day. I now believe that everyone has something to offer and you should welcome them, even if they might reject your kindness.
This idea of just simply greeting someone occurred to me in the sixth grade, when I was the outcast, the stranger that others pitied. Middle school is hard enough, but the fact that I did not know anyone made it almost unbearable. The first few days, I learned what being alone and isolated felt like. Suddenly during lunch, a brown- haired girl came and sat by me, just like that. I immediately wondered if this was a mistake. “Hi, I’m Madison, what’s your name? Do you mind if join you?” she greeted me with a peppy voice. It seems obvious that I would respond, but I honestly did not know what to do; could anyone be this nice and sincere at the same time? It took me a while but I soon learned all are capable of such an act; it is each individual’s choice to reach out or stand back. I am so glad and appreciative of Madison’s kind outreach to me because I now consider her my dearest friend, and I have since learned to pass this kindness along.
Every chance I get, I try to help and speak to others, whether I encounter someone at the grocery store, school, the mall or a gas station. Every instance has brought me delight to my day, and I soon realized that these experiences gave me the courage to try something I never thought I would consider. About mid- January of 2008 I received a letter from NYLC, an organization that holds leadership conferences for nominated students in Washington, D.C. After reviewing an outline of the program, I accepted the invitation with some reservation. Teens from across the country would be there, I not knowing any.
That first day, when I boarded the shuttle, I began to discover how many friendly, unique people I would have the chance to meet. After my roommates were assigned, we instantly became friends. Each of us greeted each other with clichés but soon all three of us started to warm up and truly began to know one another. One of the friends I met, Lee, from Hawaii taught me so much about her culture and how she viewed things. Despite differences, we learned that each of us enjoy filming mini-movies with friends. I did not necessarily agree with everything that all the students had to say, but I found myself intrigued every time I spoke with someone. As I look back on that summer conference, I realized how much I learned from the near 250 attendees just by sitting and starting a conversation with them.
The lasting impact of welcoming someone is a true lesson that all need to learn and use. So take a chance and relate with others. All are human and have something to add to your life. Instead of considering what could go wrong, think about all the wonderful possible outcomes and its impact on you and others.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.