A few weeks ago, I made a big mistake. One of those embarrassing, cold sweat inducing, ground please swallow me up mistakes, that I am sure we all have made. Let me tell you what happened. I had been trying to get my hands on a book, and I wasn’t having much success. So I had put a post on Facebook to ask if anyone had a copy I might be able to borrow. A short time after, I was driving home from my mother’s place late at night. I had my cell phone on the passenger seat beside me. It lit up with a notification and I gave it a cursory glance. It was a Facebook message (you know the ones that make the floaty heads appear on your screen.) I looked at it for a split second, and I thought I knew who it was from. I thought it was from someone whom I know pretty well and have a fairly established relationship with.
So, I get home, and immediately tap out a response. I then busied myself with recipe prep and chatting to my husband. Meanwhile, the texter and I got into a conversation. It was only a couple of hours, and dozens of messages later that I realised I had been speaking to someone else entirely. Someone that I really don’t know very well at all. Someone that really I had only ever spoken to in passing. It was to my horror and dismay that I discovered I had been having a fairly open and direct discussion with essentially a stranger. To compound my mortification, a few of the messages I had sent would have made absolutely zero sense! All I could think was “oh shit! How am I going to fix this?” By this stage my new friend had said goodnight, and there was really no way for me to back track.
I fretted and cringed about it all night, and the next morning decided the only way forward was full disclosure. I told the texter what had happened and honestly, he couldn’t have been sweeter about it. He seemed to see the funny side, even if I couldn’t! We continued chatting, and it turns out we have a lot in common. Far from being ashamed, I now have that lovely shiny feeling of having made a new friend.
As I reflected on it in the days that followed, I couldn’t help wonder how different the encounter would have been had I known who I was talking to. How much more shut off would I have been with a stranger? It made me think about how closed off to new people and new situation we can be, without even realising it. The whole episode made me learn two things.
Firstly, there really is no such thing as a mistake. As the expression goes, as one door closes, another one opens. Every action we take in life will lead us in one direction or another. These directions cannot be right or wrong, they are just different. This applies to all aspects of life; health, relationships, careers etc. We will always be faced with options and choices. Some of which will seem impossible, but if we can remember, that no one choice will equal triumph or disaster, it can make making a decision a little easier.
If we take nutrition and lifestyle as a good example. Often when we want to get started with making a change, there can seem to be so many options, and so much conflicting advice, that we become paralyzed by indecision. We can spend weeks researching the relative merits of one program versus another, when the reality is, just picking something and going with it would be far more useful. We can waste so much time and mental energy trying to figure out what is 100% optimal, when really doing anything is better than doing nothing! If you start a program and realise it’s not perfect, you can always tweak it, but at least you have taken the first steps. Don’t let your quest for perfection be a road block for your progress.
The second thing I learned from this is that life is so much richer when you are open and receptive. When you don’t allow yourself to be closed off, life will throw all sorts of experiences at you. Some of them will be weird, some of them will be wonderful and some will be a little of both. I have realised that only by opening up and allowing these experiences to come to me, can I begin to hope to have the type of authentic life I wish for. If I want a full and happy life, rich with opportunity and adventure, I need to expose myself. Yes, this is completely terrifying and not without risk, but I definitely believe that the reward is worth it.
So, the next time a stranger approaches you with the offer of a book (or a coffee, drink, or whatever) instead of rolling your eyes and muttering weirdo under your breath, allow yourself to think that maybe, as Humphrey Bogart said, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
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