“We are all human beings.”
I read these words on the pages of my book today and they brought me back to an experience I had last week, one I would be remiss if I did not share.
I am a campus tour guide for my university. And on this particular Monday, I was especially thrilled about the beautiful, sunny, 70-degree weather. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions for my first tour back from the four-month summer vacation.
But I quickly discovered that there’s no way to guarantee a smooth transition back.
I was abruptly smacked with a massive, heavy, and quite unforgiving slice of reality.
Before we had even reached the first stop on the tour, a mother shouted, from the back of the group of twenty-five, that she didn’t understand why I wasn’t pointing out each building we were passing along the way.
Every building on the 1,450 acre campus?
At the time, I reminded myself that this tour was for them and if this woman wanted every building named, that’s what she would get. So I made my best effort to point out as many buildings as I could. This was really where my first true mistake of the tour came in. I wouldn’t understand this mistake until later that day.
Not even five minutes has passed when a father from my hometown asked me where in town I live. When I responded, “Right in the center of town,” the same woman interrupted our conversation by hollering out, “Oh, so now you’re saying you live off campus when you told us at the start of the tour that you live on campus?”
No, ma’am. I’m talking about my hometown, I politely offered.
Was this woman, this mother who had kids (who may be in a position similar to me in just a year’s time) really accusing me of lying about where I live, and announcing it to a tour group?
I tried to brush it off. I had other people in the group who deserved my attention.
It’s one person, just one person. Don’t let her affect you. Don’t let her bring you down.
We walked on and reached a residential area with a model dorm room. I warned them before the tour started that since it was one of the first tours of the semester, my key wasn’t guaranteed to work yet. Sure enough, it didn’t. I explained to the group that they could view the rooms online. I had barely begun when I hear “Are you serious? The only reason we came on tour was to see the dorms. Plus, if you knew we weren’t going to be able to get in from the start, why did you bother making us walk all this way? This is ridiculous.”
Just as she finished her rant (to the whole group, mind you) another tour guide was exiting the dorm. He gave me his key to open the door.
I noticed that as the rest of the group entered the dormitory, the woman decided to wait outside the building. Hm, interesting.
Finally (finally!) I reached my last stop. I recited my parting remarks and wished them all good luck. As I led a group back to parking, a father on the tour exclaimed, “Okay you can breathe now! She’s gone.” Another woman added, “Wow, I’m so sorry.” Still another said, “We started to stand away from her so she’d get the hint.” It wasn’t until I heard these comments that I realized that I was just severely disrespected by this woman.
During the tour I was thinking to myself, Should I rearrange my whole tour? Did I do something to offend her early on? Self-doubt crept in before I assumed that maybe it wasn’t me who was the one at fault—maybe this woman was treating me poorly.
I managed to hold off until I got back to my dorm that afternoon. And then I cried. I felt so raw, so vulnerable. I also felt like I was over-reacting, like I was being dramatic. But I couldn’t help but feel belittled.
After venting to a series of supportive people in my life, I recognized that it was all I needed to get a grasp on my thoughts again.
There are angry people like this woman in the world. But for every unpleasant person out there, there are plenty more who are kind beyond belief. In this case, these are the people who listened attentively to my experience, offered insightful advice, and assured me that this woman would be unhappy no matter what I did.
Additionally, I learned a lesson of self-love. Many times we are our own worst critics. When I sensed that the woman was displeased with me, I immediately assumed it was a fault of my own. And while it’s important to try to improve yourself, know your weakness, and be open to changes, there’s also only so much we as individuals can do. I truly believe that we are all doing the very best we can to be the best self that we can.
Despite our efforts, people may be dissatisfied with us at times. They will expect more. They will be rude. But we must realize that the people acting with hatred and coldness are the ones that probably need the most support. I could have fought back to the woman on tour. But I smiled and tried my hardest to give the best tour that I know how, no differently than any other time. If that woman is going through something intense at home, I don’t want to be another stressor to her life. We should treat everyone with the same love and respect that we all deserve as humans.
At the same time, do not grant one person the power to bring you down. You are stronger than that. You owe yourself more.
I thank this woman. She reminded me the importance of kindness, to always treat others with the utmost respect, no matter what.
We all have different stressors and struggles in our lives, but you and I, we are only human. We’re all human beings. Remember that the next time your waiter messes up your order, or your cashier takes a little longer than you want. By the same token, remember that the next time someone treats you poorly or when you feel that you messed up. We all deserve kindness, from others, and from ourselves. To be treated like a human, we must treat ourselves and everyone we come across, as humans.
A lifestyle blog about veganism, mood swings, & other chatter.