October 19th, 2016 | Brieanna Fernandez
I want you to know that you changed my life. It’s funny because I generally don’t stop at the gas station in the morning before work, but I was running really close to empty and I needed to use the restroom because I have been trying this new diet where you drink a ton of water and I probably should have told you that this morning because I am sure you thought it was strange that I ran into the restroom without even thinking twice someone was in there. But it was meant to be. I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason.
You are such a strong young lady. I know that you would think that you are falling apart and weak because you were crying on the floor of a bathroom stall. (You did say that this morning) What I saw was something the rest of the world didn’t see. I am talking about the fact that you allowed a stranger into your life. You allowed yourself to be vulnerable, raw and open. You asked for help. You reached out. You were courageous and brave. And I wanted to be more like you in that moment. You accepted me without knowing my name. You trusted me whole heartedly and I think that’s heroic. You saved me from myself because just before I saw you I was complaining in my head about things that seem like no big deal at the moment.
The reason I am changed is not because I think I made an impact on your life. Not because I gave you some options on where to go or what to do next. I am not changed because I think I solved any of your battles or that I will see you again because I know that I probably won’t. The person who had an impact was you. I am changed because you taught me a valuable lesson in being human. Being empathetic. Being patient and being able to not only listen but hear. You and I were so different but in that bathroom we were just two young women having a conversation about life and the struggles of living in this unkind world.
You asked me, “How come people never really want to know how your day is when they ask?” I don’t have a good answer to that question. I didn’t when you asked me and I don’t now. My thought is that people have so much going on in their own life and they can’t possibly take the risk that they will be the vessel for your struggles because we can’t possibly give of ourselves if there is nothing to give or because we need the same thing in return; someone to actually care when they ask.
Today we are “too busy” to be vulnerable because we are so worried that we might actually let someone in to the deepest parts of ourselves because we are worrying about being judged. Because all over social media, on the streets and in our homes we are being judged for who we are and what we choose. We have become closed off because it is easier to pretend we are okay and to pretend we are not struggling, to pretend we are not hurt and it is easier to pretend we are someone we aren’t.
Vulnerability is SCARY. It takes great courage to open up and let someone get close. You, young lady, were fearless. You looked at me when I asked if you were okay and said “NO.” Your voice was shaking but it was mighty. It was full of honesty and trust that it knocked the wind out of me because I expected you to tell me “I’m fine.” When I look back, I asked because I thought that it was the right thing to do when you see someone crying on the floor, but just asking you if you were okay was not breaking any pattern in society. Just because I really wanted to know if you were okay, does not mean that you had to trust me to be the vessel for your view on how the world has treated you. Today, it was you who broke the cycle. You did the UNEXPECTED! You trusted my question to be genuine. You allowed for me to see that there are people in the world who are willing to have a conversation about life without feeling this overwhelming feeling of judgement. You looked at me and didn’t need me to be anything, but myself in the moment. You showed me that I WAS ENOUGH. The most validating feeling in the world. I- AM -ENOUGH.
The moment was priceless. Today the moment was a profound insight into what is happening in communities everywhere. WE ARE AFRAID TO BE WHO WE ARE, ASK FOR HELP AND BEFRIEND SOMEONE DIFFERENT THAN US. Why? Because it means we have to reflect back on ourselves. Are we enough?
Yes, we are enough because of a young lady sitting on the floor of a bathroom stall in a gas station. Yes, we are enough because we have the ability to be empathetic and to listen. We are enough because we can be the difference between a good day and a great day. We are enough because we can be vulnerable if we allow ourselves to trust that not everyone will judge who we choose to be.
We are enough because we are human. To the young lady in the bathroom, your selfless act of vulnerability did not go unnoticed. It has profoundly changed me.
Today, my day started out with the thought that I would be consumed with paperwork, at a job that I love, but can be overwhelming. When I got to work this morning, my staff asked me how I was and I was honest. I was changed.
So to the rest of the world, when you ask a stranger how they are doing, I hope you want an honest answer to go with that. And if you get that honest answer, I hope you want someone to ask you how you are today so you can show the world… VULNDERABILITY IS OKAY.
So…. World…How are you today?
About the writer: Brieanna is your typical 28-year-old girl who lives in Florida but is a Jersey girl at heart. She is the Program Manager if a non-profit organization that works to prevent child abuse and neglect. She loves her job and feels that it is very rewarding and challenging.