About six months ago, two new girls were hired as Sales Reps at the company I work at. When I met them, it became very apparent as to why they were hired. Both are very attractive and young, in their twenties. I remember thinking “Yep, we should get a lot more business with these two on board!”
One of the girls has always been incredibly unfriendly towards me and I’ve always wondered why and figured it was because she’s young and immature. I’m always very friendly towards everyone and smile whenever I pass someone in the hall and this girl always gives me a dirty look. I’ve always wondered why she had to act like that. She’s super attractive, tall, young and has her whole life ahead of her. Certainly life couldn’t be that bad.
This week one of my co-workers came into my office and asked if I would sign a card for this girl. We’re always signing cards for peoples birthdays and I hadn’t remembered seeing her name on the list of birthdays, so I was confused. Then I looked at the card and realized it was a “Get Well” card. I asked “Is she sick?” My co-worker explained that she was undergoing treatment for cancer. What? I was taken aback. This girl couldn’t be 30, she looked around 25. Cancer?
Suddenly I thought about all the times I was irritated at this girl for being cold towards me. It possibly explained why she had been behaving the way she was, maybe.
It also reconfirmed that we never know what is going on in peoples lives.
Years ago, I was working at a company in Los Angeles and I had a boss who I secretly called “The Grim Reaper.” Every time she walked in, she brought a dark shadow with her. You could tell she was miserable and did not want to be there. She always had a glum look on her face. I always took it personally if I said hello and she didn’t answer or if she gave me a dirty look. For months, if not years, I figured she just didn’t like me.
One day she came into my office, sat down and started crying. She started telling me how miserable she was at the company, how she was working such long hours and wasn’t spending enough time with her children and how her marriage was falling apart. She told me she had also gained a lot of weight because she didn’t have enough time to take care of herself anymore. I learned that day that all those times when she walked in and didn’t acknowledge me had nothing to do with me, she was barely holding herself and her life together.
Everyday we need to remember not to take anything personally. There will be people who don’t smile back at us when we smile at them. There will be people who ignore us when we say hello. There will be people who are just plain rude: Rude cashiers, rude drivers, rude people on the phone, rude co-workers. We’re all fighting battles. Some are fighting health battles, some are fighting relationship battles, some have lost their job, some have lost their home, some are caring for an ailing family member.
Life isn’t easy for any of us. We all go through hard times. We all struggle at one time or another.
So next time you smile at someone and they don’t smile back, remember: We don’t know what’s going on in that persons life. They may be hanging on by a thread. They may not have it in them to smile right at that moment. We’re all fighting the hardest battle of all: The Battle of Life.