For this week’s Monday Inspiration, we invite you to explore the untold stories behind each person. When was the last time you had a deep, heart-to-heart conversation with a friend or loved one? When was the last time you had a deep, heart-to-heart conversation serendipitously with a stranger? What is impeding you from doing so? I believe this comes down to two things: walls and vulnerability. The Oxford Dictionary explains the word “vulnerable” as “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” The “walls” we are speaking of are the emotionally barriers we erect for ourselves—against the people we come across each day.
Emotional walls are not the result of individual fault but rather, social rules, cultural rules, stereotypes etc.. Social titles help us make sense of the world in general, but they often result in us pigeonholing the people we meet into different categories in our brains. When we meet people for the first time in a social setting, perhaps at a dinner or house party, our first instinct is to ask “So what do you do?” This may lead to a boring discussion about jobs. However, some alternatives to this introductory breaking-the-ice question could be “So what are some of the things you like to do?” or “What are some of the things you care about?” Questions like these help you cut through the clutter and deeper to the person you are speaking to. It allows you to see them as more than what they do to convert labour to money in the bank.
Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York exemplifies what we are trying to get at perfectly. Brandon interviews and documents the stories of “ordinary” people from all walks of life, race, class and gender. Brandon proves that there is a deeper story behind every individual. However, we can never truly know the people we come across each day unless we put effort into getting to know them deeply. While it may not be possible to know everyone we come across deeply, all it takes is allowing ourselves and the other person to be vulnerable to each other—to trust that we are both not in an environment that judges but rather, listens. Only then can we truly experience the power of building deep human connections with one another.
Karen & Carissa
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