Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Perfect Strangers

 As has been documented in my life list and some of my encouragement posts, I am no fan of strangers. I wish I had some deep, childhood trauma-related reasoning for this fear, but ultimately, I just don't like 'em. My sisters will recoil when I even talk to them near a grocery store register, since I begged them for so many years to buy my gum or magazines in proxy so I wouldn't have to talk to the cashier. I even gave them the money! I purposely did not go through drive-thrus because I felt the minimum waged employee would judge me if I took even a millisecond to decide on my order; this particular facet was erased as soon as I became one of those employeed to listen through a headset to orders of burgers and fries, and I always appreciated the extra time their thinking gave me to do other things. My whole life, I have been a stranger scaredy-cat.

Cut to our recent trip to California; Caleb and I had the opportunity to celebrate our 5th anniversary by taking an overnight trip to Disneyland, recreating our spectacular honeymoon. My sisters watched our kids and were rock stars in the process. We had a fantastic time being together, and though we did talk about parenting and other unromantic topics, there was a definite romantic air about the trip. We even got to sleep through the night -- in the same bed! There was one oddity about the whole outing, however: I found myself essentially accosting strangers in order to chat with them.

Side note: Caleb and I have this weird pact that on any adventure we take alone, we don't take photos. It's a little selfish, because we don't want to share our special memories with anyone else. That is why there is no photographic evidence of what I am about to tell you.

After looking in several places for Phineas and Ferb gear for Jack, I jumped off a bench in California Adventure at two young adults who were wearing Perry the Platypus shirts. With an ice cream sandwich in hand, I leaped off the bench shouting, "Excuse me, but where did you find those t-shirts???? I LOVE THEM!" The startled gentleman whispered, "Wal-Mart?" in a questioning tone and kept walking. This was only the beginning of my reign of terror. I stopped in a Disneyland restaurant to tell a mommy that her sleeping child was adorable. I prolonged a friendly conversation with a cashier in one of the Disneyland stores. On the way back to Utah, I exclaimed to a family eating lunch after church that their baby was "SOOOOO CUUUUUTE."

Who was this person that I became?

I honestly believe that I changed when I read this story by Moorea Seal about how a man complimented her in a coffee shop. When I have something positive to say about someone that I see, I have decided to say it. Maybe I will stop the "jumping towards them in a frantic manner" tactic, but I definitely want to continue to make others feel good about themselves.

In a similar way, I have decided to reach out to others online and use Amy's advice when it comes to commenting on blogs I love. Maybe some of the more popular blogs that get comments in the double digits on every post don't NEED my comment, but I know that there is a person behind that blog who is just like me -- they appreciate kindness and want to know that people enjoy their work. And as for the smaller blogs? It is just the same.

I want to let everyone, stranger or not, know that they mean something to someone.

Maybe I'll lick this stranger danger fear yet.


  1. Sounds like you are well on your way! You rock. And I remember buying stuff for you at the grocery store. :)

  2. This was awesome girl :) Thanks for mentioning me and I am SO glad that my experience could lead you to not only have more confidence around strangers but full on engage and encourage strangers! Your voice is appreciated, even if the are confused by you approaching them. Thats how I felt when that man complimented me. I was confused because it is SO RARE to be complimented by a stranger. but it impacted me deeply. You are doing that for so many :)
    xo moorea

  3. I have found that it's not the stranger, but my lack of small talk ability that makes me shy around people I don't know very well. I am terrible at small talk and I'm not sure why.

    Oh well. Yet another lovely quirk about myself to embrace!