I've learned a lot of things in my life.
Or, maybe more accurately, I've learned a little of things in my life.
Growing up with six brothers, some of whom have very different and eclectic interests, taught me from an early age that you can learn something from every person you meet. No matter what. All it takes is asking the right questions and then listening. But mostly listening. That, my friends, is a recipe for success. So while I was watching my brothers play video games or fix their break pads or even spray paint their car with a skull and cross bones on the hood, I would insert myself and ask questions. Everywhere you turned, there was a life lesson just waiting to be heard.
(Something else that is helpful: inserting yourself. You'll never get anywhere in this world without pushing your way through and being where you need/want to be. People have said it before, but let me repeat it: if you act like you're supposed to be there, no one will ask questions. Believe me, this has allowed me many double features at the movie theatre. Don't judge.. I always just end up spending so much money on concessions that I don't feel bad.)
Some tidbits I've learned from strangers:
-When I was in Korea I decided I would take up hitchhiking...ok not actually as a real hobby but I did hitchhike for the first time about 3 weeks after I arrived, and by the U.S. Army base no less. The man who picked me up was probably in his mid-40's, probably married, definitely bald, and he was wearing the shortest of short shorts, ensuring that the one and only thing I vividly remember seeing when I entered the car were his fleshy white thighs. Naturally, his name was Buck. Buck taught me to never ride in cars with strangers, or you might end up actually writing down said strangers phone number and promise to call for help with the 'cultural differences'.
-Upon graduating from college, I was lucky enough to find a job working at the local Target. Starting at 5 am on the weekends, I would hang and organize the new shipments of clothes on the racks before the store opened. I learned all about how to place items in the right spots and I also learned that graduating from college was the worst decision I ever made. No person was involved in this one, except maybe the horrible manager who lied about my job and (surprise) it turned out to be just seasonal. Don't worry-after that I found a job working for the Census Bureau. I guess the real shout out here would go to my parents, who let me live in their basement and who taught me that it was okay that this was happening. Life is full of surprises.
-Jesse was a boy I met my sophomore year of college and I still think if I had played my cards right, we could've actually fallen in love. We had a New Testament class (#BYU) together and we used to get scolded from our professor for talking, which I was strangely proud of. We would hang out and see movies together and Jesse was one of the first people I met in my life who just seemed to 'get' me. Jesse taught me that family pressures were the worst and I was instantly grateful for the lack of lawyers in my family tree.
-This past summer in Brazil, my team and I became quite close with the hotel staff where we were staying. I will be dedicating an entire chapter in my future book to this summer in Brazil because I met so many fantastic humans and there are many, many stories to be told (some of them shameful), but the overall theme was quiet kindness. We would eat lunch at our hotel restaurant almost every day and every day this one server would come out and greet us like we were the most important people on the planet. Every day he would go out of his way to bring us freshly squeezed juice or single servings of a family style order. As much as was possible, we would laugh and joke and forget about the language barrier. He taught me a lot, this man, about loving who you serve and serving who you love.
-Lastly, Mr. V was the security guard at a school I worked at a few years ago. He was a tall and lanky black man who strolled around the school, encouraging students to go back to class and who almost always had a Mountain Dew in his hand. Mr. V and I became what I described as best friends that year and he even set me up with his roommate (nice guy but also obsessed with archery). What I loved about Mr. V was how little he cared about the bigger picture and how much he cared about the smaller picture. I also loved how he wore a visor every day and called me BYU because he couldn't actually remember my real name...wait, maybe we weren't best friends now that I think about it. I'm telling you-life lessons all over the place!