We meet in crowded spaces, in off track places, in shadowed halls between sturdy walls. We see each other across rooms, through windows, across streets, and through doorways. Sometimes we are attracted to the strangers we see, and other times they might as well be invisible. But one thing is true: we meet (even in passing) many more people than we actually talk to.
I work retail, and the larger part of my job is to meet new people, even if it’s just a quick “Good morning,” or “Yes, the ice cube trays are in Aisle C23.” And I’ll admit with each person I meet during the course of my day I want to ask them “And you are…?”
They all know my name. It’s on my name tag. Some of them even call me by name, as if they are familiar with me, as if they are my friends instead of mere acquaintances. So I am at a disadvantage from the outset, but that doesn’t stop me from being my authentic self. Because in some respects I was tailor made to work retail. I am outgoing.
It is this outgoing nature that aids me well in my “day job,” teaching English at a local community college. Except, instead of meeting people in passing, teaching offers me the opportunity to form connections over the course of a semester with 75 students. I know all of their names from the start. The difficult part is just matching those names to faces.
And I love both forms of communication: talking to anonymous strangers for mere moments at a time in one job, and communicating closely over a semester with students who look to me for expertise in the other. It’s a complicated dance between who I am in one place and who I am in the other, but I’m still the same person, still the same personality.
We meet so many people every single day, even if we don’t realize it most of the time. What kind of an impression do we make on others? What kind of an impression do they make on us? Sometimes we never find out what they really think of us, and that’s okay, but imagine if life was like Tinder. Think what it would be like if we could glance at someone and know how they felt about us with one theoretical swipe.
And you are…?