People want to be liked.
Although this may seem like a simple concept, I think we often underestimate this simple truth.
When I was 18, I worked at a retail store for 6 months. I really loved this job: with one exception. A coworker seemingly hated me. I was used to the occasional snide remark, but I was not used to someone making pointed jabs at me 10 times a day. It felt as if everything I did upset her. I could do no right in her eyes. Sitting in my car one day I burst into tears. What did I do to deserve this hate? I was trying to be gracious and kind, but I secretly wanted to ask her what the heck her problem was. What had I done to her?
I found some solace in the fact that she didn’t seem to like anyone. And if I was being honest, no one liked her either. They would talk about her behind her back and make just as rude remarks. It was a vicious cycle of negativity. In the summer of 2012 I put in my two weeks, and I prepared to leave for Peru for missions work. Something inside of me has a really hard time leaving things unsettled and I really did want to find peace and some sort of closure in this working relationship.
I stayed up late the night before my last day. I went back and forth on if I should say something to her. Should I communicate how she hurt me? Should I ask her why she felt the need to treat me the way she did? The more I thought about it, the more I began to get the feeling that she was a person in pain. I knew that her father had recently passed away, she was having a hard time with her boyfriend, and she didn’t have a good working relationship with anyone.
Maybe this had nothing to do with me.
I clocked out of my last shift and went to her table that had just left. I left a little post it note next to her tip:
Hey___, I’m so sad that this is my last day. It was good meeting you, and I’ve seen how hard of a worker are. You are really good at your job, and I am excited for what your future holds. I hope that your passion for kickboxing continues to grow, and that you have an amazing summer. You are beautiful- Jubilee.
I bolted out of that store as fast as humanly possible. I didn’t have the nerve to say any of that to her face.
That night the strangest thing happened…. She friended me on Facebook. We never discussed the note, but she began to open up to me. She told me about how this past year had been really hard for her, and we began to talk. No, we aren’t best friends, but we did find peace. It has been six years, and she still engages with me on social media. She has not made one negative comment towards me since I left her that note.
If there is anything I have learned these past few years, it is this: people just want to be seen. People just want to be heard. People just want to be liked. People who have a tough exterior are often just going through a difficult time. Keep your eyes open. Leave a note. Don’t engage in a cycle of negativity. You might be surprised how easily walls can crumble. In fact, you might be surprised to see what a beautiful person lies beyond them.