Throughout the course of one’s life, there will be a series of situations that some wise men before us called crossroads. They will become the turning points from which you learn about who you are as a person to yourself, and to others. Some will be external challenges, such as finding a way to work on time after missing your alarm and getting stuck in rush hour traffic. Others will be more nuanced tests of your character.
Often, the former takes precedence, as it should. This is a practical and important practice for every person to exercise. Everyone needs a skill set that can contribute to society and a desire to act upon it.
Without reward for hard work, we lack the ability to sustain a healthy mentality or even survive. So it’s no question that we can’t always stop to reflect as we may wish to. The world does not turn if we stop to eat our cake before it’s even been made.
But in the subtle silence between selfishly taking up the duration of an exchange with a perfect stranger, or withholding your true opinions out of intent not to rock the boat, there is a course of action that can be taken that typically is not. We can let our guards down, and actively decide to be vulnerable.
Without the guise of ego we so often operate in daily life with, we can embrace authentic exchanges between people. Suddenly, the man you saw on the corner of the street comes to life. You can allow yourself to see him as a human with a past and story, and not just a menace that takes up space in your life.
The woman you bumped into, cursing as she blames you picking up the belongings knocked out of her hands, could be a stressed daughter. You can allow a negative interaction to not be an attack on your person, but instead be simply an expression of a human having much less than a splendid day.
On occasion, you may be offered another’s more vulnerable self. They will go out of their way to tell you about their rough childhood, or their inability to keep a job or even an apology for a misstep made towards you. The simple response would be to protect yourself at all costs. This response could take many forms.
Dismissing their thought process by hurrying off, or not listening. Judging, or fortune telling about their deeper troubles preventing them from achievement. Or simply responding “It’s okay” or “No problem” or “Not a big deal” or “Don’t worry about it” when deep down you deserve their apology but can’t allow them to know the power they had over your emotions.
These are crossroads we always move through yet don’t realize we’ve passed. With every choice we make on autopilot, there is an unawareness we carry with us toward these missed opportunities. And even after we become aware, there is a hesitance to remove the comfortable walls we carefully constructed from around our being. But we can’t allow ourselves to continue missing incredible moments of growth and experience by falling prey to our own misguided practices in daily life. Rather, we can only allow ourselves to be honest when we push ourselves into situations that are out of our unique comfort zones. And even more when we allow ourselves to be the hurt party to someone else’s actions.
So dare to be hurt. Allow disappointment to wash over you. Listen to someone despite your needs not being met. Garner new perspective. And pray that someday, should you find yourself in a less than an agreeable place, you come across someone who has the same kind the self-assured brevity of knowledge or patient ear to lend. This is when you truly begin to experience life for what it is, messiness and all.