In humiliation I cried at work this morning.
I walked around my office building this morning to stretch my legs for a few minutes. I work at a place where more than 25,000 people at any time coming and going, so walking by a stranger is as common as walking by a familiar face.
As I was walking I approached a lady who saw me and began wildly waving at me, she was smiling big and yelled cheerfully, “Good Morning.” This was definitely more than just the usual kindness of the south, this woman knew me or thought she did, so even though I did not recognize her, I smiled warmly, waved and said good morning back to her as our feet caught up with one another.
As I waved with my warm hello she looked at me strangely, almost as if I had grown an extra head or had something horrific on my face. She stepped around me to the woman who was apparently walking a few steps behind me—the person she was actually waving and smiling at. Embarrassed I looked back at them, I was about to smile and say, “sorry I thought you were talking to me”—I planned to turn in humbleness and offer them both a “have a good day.” But when I turned they both gave me a look of annoyance and pity and began to have good chuckle at my expense.
I felt small.
I felt embarrassed.
I felt a little humiliated and compounded with the insecurities and inadequacies already in my heart I began to tear up and cry.
I have had a hard couple weeks. My husband has been out of town on and off the last couple weeks for his job leaving me to run our household alone while I also work 40 hours a week. We are equal partners when it comes to running our home and parenting our children so when he is absent I definitely feel the weight of his absence. I have a second “job” that I have been trying to complete for a month now and I can never find time to complete it and I know I have anxious clients awaiting my work, and my toddler is slowly but surely beginning the terrible twos (long before she turns two) and it has been a challenge recently for me to stay focused, stay strong and be the super mom, wife, worker everyone expects me to be.
The two women who gave me looks of shame at my embarrassment didn’t know I have been traversing these things in life, those women laughed at my expense not knowing how it would affect me. Nor did they care, and that is the problem. The problem is it is so easy to offer kindness…kindness takes the same amount of effort to offer as rudeness.
You never know what someone is going through, my current struggles pale in comparison to the mom who just found out her pregnancy ended, to the woman who just received the diagnosis she was terrified to hear, to the newly made widow, or the woman who recently lost a parent, or the women going through a divorce…we are ALL walking around with hurts on our hearts. A little kindness can go a long way and a small act of rudeness can flatten a spirit already being crushed by the weight of the world.
How would the situation looked if that woman had said, “Hey, I was actually waving and speaking to my friend behind you, but I hope you have a good morning.” What if her and her friend understood my miscommunication with a friendly smile and a warm nod instead of harsh look and a laugh?
I teared up in embarrassment and in sadness at their rudeness, because no matter how much you tell yourself rude people don’t matter, they do, we are wired with emotions that feel pain when we are humiliated or embarrassed. Some may feel it more deeply than others depending on the burdens are we are currently carrying on our heart. Be kind to others or if you can’t be kind just don’t be rude.