You’re never too old to learn something new about yourself. Sometimes the thing you learn about yourself is something you’ve always known, in the back of your mind, but never had that aha moment that forced you to realize it’s truth.
I would like to thank a wonderful lady, S, who works in the office of Cambridge MPP, Kathryn McGarry, in the same building as I with LawyerLocate.ca Inc., for all of her long, heart-felt, personal conversations in the ladies room, and forcing me to realize my own strength.
This past Friday was just another Friday at the office when I went to the ladies room in-between tasks. I came out of the stall to find S, blow drying her hair by the sink after her long and strong cycle into work. We always seem to meet up in the ladies room early in the morning and are able to share a few words with each other.
The World is Small and Intertwined with Connections
It was with one of these brief ladies room conversations, many months ago, that I learned we have a mutual friend.
We would often talk about physical activity where she would share about her commitment to yoga and cycling and other physical activities on a regular basis. I was shocked to learn that one woman could do so much in one day, and I couldn’t seem to find the time to go for a 20-minute walk.
But, as we were talking about her exercise routine, she expressed her worry about her appearance for her son’s wedding that weekend. I told her she’s beautiful and she will look great, she just needs to relax and enjoy the day. She proceeded to tell me that the ceremony was taking place at Kitchener City Hall’s Wedding Belle Chapel. With excitement I told her that I also got married there a few months previously. I wished her a great time at the wedding and a great weekend and we both carried on with our lives.
Over the following weekend I spent some spare moments on Facebook and saw that yet another one of my high school friend had gotten married. I started browsing through her photos, drooling over her beautiful dress and stunning wedding party when, all of a sudden, I saw S! I thought to myself, this couldn’t be her son’s wedding that she was telling me about. So, I left a comment on the post:
Oh my gosh! Totally random but I just noticed the lady in the blue dress works in my building and was telling me about her son getting married this past weekend! What a small world!
The following Monday morning I met S in the ladies room again and proceeded to explain to her how I know her son. What a small world, indeed.
Casual Conversations can be Powerful
On Friday, S and I had another one of our ladies room conversations. However, this one was different. This one forced me to realize how strong and independent I am.
It started with a conversation about hair and how I was jealous of her volume. She said sometimes she wishes she had hair like mine (I called it flat, which it is). She told me her daughter has hair just like mine, that she can’t hold a curl even with all of the right product in it, and she’s a hairdresser! She told me a story of when her daughter curled a little girl’s blonde hair for a wedding and watching it go from bouncy curls to flat, as if she had never curled her hair that day at all, in a matter of hours. I told her how I suffer from the same problem and that I was afraid this would happen to me at my own wedding.
We continued talking and transforming the conversation into new topics.
I’d like to pause the story for a second to mention that I truly enjoy sharing my personal life with others. This conversation with S was, by no means, a difficult one to have. I have previously written openly and honestly about my Uncle who passed away this year, my emotions surrounding my first job after college, and even my Great Grandfather’s personal notes to my Great Grandmother from when he was away at war. I often talk openly and honestly with friends and family about things that have happened in my life because I truly believe that we can learn a great deal from our fellow humans and their life experiences.
Now, back to Friday’s ladies room conversation with S.
The conversation went from talking about curly and flat hair to the fact that I have little pigment everywhere else in my body which translates into blue eyes, and pale and sensitive skin, among other things, to talking about my background being Scottish, Irish, English, and a bit of the unknown since my Mother was adopted and never met her biological Mother, to talking about when she met her biological Father and how he actually passed away this year, to odd characteristics of dysfunctional families, to how my parents divorced when I was in Grade 6 but are both re-married now, to how having to choose which home to live in as a young lady after my parents divorced resulted in me bouncing back and fourth and switching schools numerous times and ultimately leaving home at the young age of 15 and moving in with my boyfriend (now husband) and his family, to going to a Catholic school for the first time, to winning the religion award at my first Catholic school in Grade 10, to graduating high school, with honours, despite the stereotype for someone in my situation who left home at a young age, to continuing my education with three years of college, to ultimately landing my first job with LawyerLocate.ca Inc., where I met her, and finally, to talking about my new job, starting in 2 weeks.
S congratulated me on my new job and expressed that she will miss seeing me around. I told her that I would miss our little bathroom conversations. She asked me how I found this new job and I told her how it sort of landed in my lap, which I am so grateful for. She asked what kind of work it is that I will be doing, and I told her. She asked what kind of work I was doing for LawyerLocate.ca Inc, and I told her. She mentioned that her daughter wants to get into an editorial career when she’s finished school. She then told me that she considers her own daughter to be mature for her age, and compared me to her to explain how mature I seem.
She told me that I am such an independent woman for my age and she is always thrown off by my responsible personality. I told her how I’ve always been really independent and responsible and how I’m not sure where I got that from. I told her how my parents always instilled a high level of importance on education and success and I think that has always followed me in life. She said after moving out at 15-years-old, I’d have to grow up fast, and learn to be independent and responsible.
The conversation came to a close shortly after this point when we both decided we had done enough chatting for the morning and should get back to work.
Coincidentally enough, writer and friend, Danny Brown, had emailed me his latest post, a truly inspiring piece, while I was in the ladies room chatting with S. I read his perfectly timed post, called “A Letter to My Daughter on Being a Strong Woman,” immediately upon my return to my desk.
My chat with S and reading this post by Danny made me reflect on myself and my life. Telling S some of my personal details about my life felt great. I found myself unexpectedly tearing up a few times, not realizing how personal my story was and how much certain details meant to me. I was also forced to realize that I am a strong woman. I am a very independent woman. And you know what? I am proud of everything that I am. So much so, that I love to share my story with others.
Casual Conversations Empower Inner Strength & Inspire Growth
I love to see people’s body language and reactions to my life and hear their opinions about it. I love to hear stories about their life and I love realizing that everyone has their own story. And, it’s true. Everyone has their own struggles and successes. But we don’t get to hear about them unless we stop for a moment and talk about them. I am so grateful for S and for Danny, for opening up about their lives to me and for listening to some of my most personal stories. They’ve helped me realize the power of my inner strength and the power of casual, yet open and honest conversation.
I encourage others to remember that it’s ok to share your personal experiences with others and to ask them about theirs. A great way to learn new things about yourself and about life in general is to participate in such open and honest conversations.
So talk, either in-person, or online, with a close friend or even a stranger, about life. Learn something new about yourself today, and every day.