The Day I Inspired a Stanger

There was a time where I had no direction. There was just a dirt road leading to no where. Then, out of good fortune (I don’t believe in luck) I was given an opportunity; an opportunity that not only would change my life, but also the others around me. Some of us think we’re meant for great things, but then we don’t end up doing them. The funny thing is, we’re all meant for greatness. Some of us just lower our expectations as our lives begin to unravel, so we can avoid getting hurt. Failing at trying to become a doctor may be humiliating and or falling short on your next big gig is frustrating. People don’t want to disappoint themselves and others. However, the only real opinion that matters is your own. Another living soul should not matter when it comes to what you want. Remember when you were a kid and thought of being an astronaut or an actor? I do. Then we get into school, and they tell us to stop being silly. Stop imagining you’re going to be the next best thing! Isn’t that crazy.

The day I truly noticed I changed the direction of someone’s life was not too long ago. I was at the office. Rachel was quite introverted, and it took a lot to get her talking. I was fortunate enough to get the seat next to her. I’d constantly ask about how her day was going. She’d say: “Fine, good, okay,” the usual you’d expect from people. I didn’t ask just to talk or get my mind off work. I was genuinely interested in her day. I’d continue and ask what the best part of her day was, or if anything awesome happened that made the day a good one. For about 2 months, I kept this up. (Of course I didn’t always ask the same questions but you get the idea.) Until one day, she finally cracked. She would come in to work and start asking me questions about what I’ve been up to. It was great. I love when you finally get on the same frequency with people and start to build relationships. I guess you could say we “clicked” per se. Rachel naturally started coming to work a little more cheerful. We would discuss things we like doing, what she want to do with her life, and what I wanted to do with mine.

Rachel was currently a student and on her way to becoming a teacher. It’s a great profession. I asked her why she wanted to be a teacher. Shrugging, she replied, “I don’t know. It’s easy, and I like to work with kids.” When I heard, “I don’t know” I already knew that’s not what she really wanted to do. So I asked her why she wasn’t working at a day care or nannying for a family. She said, “Well yeah, but I don’t think I could find a job. Besides, it wouldn’t pay well enough.” Money should never be a reason not to do what you love. What hurts more, working a job that’s easy and not what you like doing or trying and failing at a job you love? You can fail and doing something you hate so you might as well do something you love. Life is too short for that! Stop doing shit you hate, you’re only here for 70–90 years (it’ll probably over 100 for you).

I continued to probe with Rachel, “So don’t you think if teaching is easy for you, you’d end up getting bored and hate it?” She agreed, but said that she feels comfortable with the route she was going. I responded by asking what her dream job was. What would she love doing for the rest of her life? Now don’t quote me on this, but her dream was to going to the biological engineering. She wanted to work in a lab and help create new medicines and technology for people who have lost limbs. I thought it was a great fit. I could see and hear it in her voice how happy it made her to talk about it. I asked her why she wasn’t pursuing that, and she told me now that she didn’t feel she could do it nor was she smart enough. I immediately let her know that she was. That she wouldn’t have thought of the dream if she couldn’t do in the first place. See we’ve all got what it takes! Some of us just need that extra boost of encouragement.

Over the next few weeks, I came in everyday asking her if she had applied to transfer to the college, which also happened to be in another city an hour and half way. She kept saying no she can’t. I kept saying she could…it wasn’t until a couple more months passed that she came to work with excitement. “Wes guess what!? I’m transferring to the new school and my grandma is helping with the moving situation!” You see when you put your mind to something, the universe conspires to work in your favor. This works with anything you want. Once you truly believe you can, you can! It doesn’t matter the obstacle, what matters is the way you view the obstacle. I couldn’t have been more proud. She let me know that she’d be leaving before the semester was up. And you know what, she did! Just like that, she was gone. Now she’s off doing her thing, following her passion. I think we all need to do this! That’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I want to wake people up and allow themselves to realize that they can do anything they want. So what about you? Play with your mind a little bit! Why are you working that job? I hope you don’t say “the money.” Why are you going to school? I hope you don’t say “because that’s what you’re supposed to do” or “because my parents wanted me to.” Figure it out! You got this! I’d like to leave you with one last thing. We all have the power to inspire someone. Some of us may do it and not even know. A goal I’ve tried to instill in my everyday life is leaving everyone I meet better than I met them. I believe this is what we were all meant to do.