Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called Being Quiet, a moment of an encounter called Overheard Conversation, and a moment of a perspective called Why Alone.
Hello and welcome to Episode #26 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. These are real life stories that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Being Quiet, He Who Asked, and Why Alone.
A moment of adversity called: Being Quiet
My fourth-grade teacher, Miss Kelleher, was a kind teacher. Though it has been decades since I last saw her, her name and thoughtful approach to me remain in my memory.
One day, Miss Kelleher said she had a Big Brother for me because they couldn't get a Big Sister (in the Big Brother Big Sister Program). I would be spending some time with that person. I didn't understand why it happened, but I knew Miss Kelleher cared about me and wanted something positive.
Before I knew it, Auntie Kassie said I was going horseback riding with a Big Brother and that she was coming along to make sure I was safe. I knew he was supposed to be talking to me, as Miss Kelleher told me, but it seemed that he spent more time talking to my auntie. I assumed it was because they were closer in age, and I was just the little girl on the horse. Big Brother was holding the horse's reins, walking, and softly talking to Auntie Kassie. High up on the horse, I couldn't hear what they were saying. I only remember he hardly spoke to me! What kind of Big Brother was he?
That occasion was the first time I rode on a horse and enjoyed fresh green grass all around me in the quiet countryside. Other than that, Big Brother didn't do anything for me.
Eight years later, when I entered college, I had the opportunity to do some volunteer work. As I looked at the list of choices, I chose the Big Brother Big Sister Program because I wanted to be a big sister for someone. I always wanted a big sister to chat with or spend time with, so I knew how a child without a big sister might feel. Though I signed up for it, I didn't get the opportunity to be a big sister to someone.
Miss Kelleher probably thought I was a lonely child at home surrounded by aunties and uncles. And it would be nice for me to have someone like a buddy because I didn't talk much. Just because I was a quiet girl, she probably thought I needed a big sister. While she had good intentions and wanted to do something to help, my reaction to it all was that she thought something was wrong with me.
I have a big sister, a biological one, but I hardly ever lived with her, so we barely spent much time with each other. I even have younger sisters, but I didn't spend much time with them either. I grew up with aunties and uncles instead of my brothers and sisters. Mom decided that when I was five.
Despite having five brothers and sisters, I didn't grow up with them. Despite living with five uncles and aunties, I didn't feel like I had anyone by my side. Since my aunties and uncles were older than me, they treated me like a child, and I was a child. That meant that whatever I had to say didn't matter. Nobody listened to my ideas or opinions. Why talk when no one is listening? Not talking became a habit. Even to this day, if I feel someone is not listening, I will stop talking.
As much as I loved Miss Kelleher, I remember the feeling that I thought she thought something was wrong with me. As a mature woman, I realized that many people are uncomfortable with quiet people. Silence makes some people uncomfortable, so they make it like there's something wrong with it. Worse, many view introverts less positively as extroverts. Unfortunately, I also bought those ideas as truths and thought less of myself for a very long time. Fortunately, the older me began to see nothing wrong with being quiet or introverted!
I hate noise; I love quiet and enjoy contributing to peace. I enjoy being aware of internal thoughts and spending quality time with a few people. Others may prefer sounds, talking a lot, or lots of people around them. Quiet or noisy, introvert or extrovert, it's a matter of preference. One is not necessarily better than the other.
As a person walking down the street or in any social situation, I appear quiet and introverted. However, when I was in business, you'd see me networking and chatting up a storm in social events. In sales presentations and training on stage, I would look comfortable speaking to a few people or a crowd of hundreds, and I was at ease with it. In another career as a teacher, I constantly talked in front of students with joy. So, we are not necessarily altogether one or the other depending on situations. We could be more of one than the other but also both. We need both in this world!
A moment of an encounter called: He Who Asked
He asked me how I could endure five years of being in sales without making much money. "Tell me more about your sales experience," he said. When he first asked, I just shared some basic experiences. He asked again, and I attempted to share in more detail, though I couldn't find any more information to explain how I could press on. By our third conversation on the subject, I got a little mad. I said, "I don't have any more to say on the subject, and I do not like this because you are reminding me of my great failure." To my surprise, he said, "I just wanted to know because it is so inspiring how you could keep at it when you weren't producing results out of it and how could you stand all the rejections you get from customers?" He reminded me how he had experience in sales by just handing out flyers, and within a month, he couldn't stand it and quit already.
For the first time, I saw a different perspective about my sales experience. For the first time, I acknowledged myself for my persistence and tenacity and that they are qualities to be proud of having. It also confirmed that I am not a quitter; I will keep trying something until I get some semblance of success.
He asked me about general problems at work. I told him I always had this problem of people being jealous of me and then talking behind my back. It has caused some issues and has been an annoyance to me. I said, "I always mind my own business, do my job, work quietly, and don't bother people, so I don't know why people need to talk about me. I do the best I can at my job." He said, "Wow, you must be great at what you do; that is why people are jealous of you. They want a piece of what you have because they don't have it, and that is why they talk about you." He said, "I wish somebody were jealous of me!" My response was, wow, it never occurred to me that way! So instead of being annoyed with people being jealous of me, I could for once acknowledge myself for having some abilities!
He asked me if a boss ever scolded me. I thought and thought and could not recall ever being scolded or criticized by a boss. He shared his uncomfortable experience and hoped to have company for his misery. But he didn't have any and inquired how it was possible on my end. I thought a little bit and said, "It must be my mean look; it makes people afraid of me. It makes my students afraid of me, my subordinates afraid of me, and even my superiors afraid of me, so I guess that is why they haven't yelled at me." He was like, "Wow, you are so powerful; even your superiors are afraid of you!" I had to laugh; he laughed, too. True it is, fun it is, fortunate am I! Then I teased or flirted a little and said, "So, are you afraid of me now?" He laughed. I said, "At least you know, don't mess with me; I can be a mean machine!"
He asked me to share some challenges I overcame. I shared and shared and felt the weight of having such a challenging life; who would want my life? He shared a few of his stories, but for him, my stories, my actual, real-life stories, were so much more interesting, and he commented, "You have such an abundant life." I remember another conversation I had with another friend years ago. She was afraid of engaging in another relationship for fear of rejection. My response, not well thought out but just came out of my mouth, was that with all the ups and downs and twists and turns in my life, I would still rather have them all than have blank chapters in my life or boring chapters in my life when one day I write the book about my life. After it came out of my mouth, I thought, how profound! This guy, in the present, used the word "abundant" and made me feel so much better about my life! I appreciate him reminding me that those are precisely the ingredients for an abundant life with all the good and bad!
He asked me about any daring adventures. He shared his experiences studying abroad. I shared about my travel adventures, skydiving, bungy jumping, living abroad, jumping into the unstable life of a business, hot-air balloon riding, and more. After some sharing, he asked how I overcame fear or found the courage to do all those things. Amazingly when I explained to him that when you face fear, confront it in the face, that is when you find fear will disappear and that you indeed make it up all in your mind. He said he was inspired and felt a little more courage to go out and do the things he wanted to do. Knowing that my sharing could inspire others is pure joy and contentment.
Though a mature adult now, it was through he who asked that I discovered for the first time that my life is abundant. Also, for the first time, it occurred to me that I have something of value, which is why others are jealous of me. And so, I shouldn't be annoyed with the jealousy people have. He also helped me see my relentless persistence and courageous stance differently. In short, Everett made me see and appreciate my beauty!
Through all his asking, Everett unpeeled my many onion layers to reveal the wonderful me hidden below the many layers I created to protect myself. He unwittingly made me feel like a remarkable person, and I fell in love with him.
A moment of a perspective called: Why Alone
I moved to a place I thought I'd like: Well-manicured trees, lakes nearby, the immense Pacific Ocean nearby, clean streets, and organized land layouts. No friends, no family, and no boyfriends to speak of in this pleasant but well-populated small town. Why did I put myself in this place? I had five marriage proposals in my life. Why did I turn four of them down? I ran off to another country, knowing no one. Why did I do that? I had one of the best conversational friends. Why did I delete her from my life? I traveled to many places alone. Why did I do that? I lived alone for many years. Why did I choose that? Most importantly, with such a deep desire to be connected with others, why did I have actions that led to many moments of aloneness?
While there are answers to some questions and no answers to some questions yet, one begs to ask, why are we as humans sometimes so contradictory? We want one thing but do the opposite of what we want. Why?
I love moving to a new place. It is a chance for a new beginning, a place to explore new things and make new friends. Yet as beautiful as a place could be, what good is it if you don't have people you could feel connected or related? How fun is it exploring alone?
I met a lady while traveling. She is a beautiful young lady who likes to travel and learn new things like me. She asked me, "Tell me, what did you do to get five marriage proposals?" Hearing someone say that to me for the first time gave me pause for concern. I asked myself, how is it that a beautiful and friendly young lady like her could have one proposal that was barely a proposal to her? And me, not the most friendly person in the world and certainly not beautiful, could have five proposals? She asked and wanted to know because she wanted an extraordinary relationship like mine.
I proceeded to answer her. The first one was the love of my life, but I told him I needed to finish college, and then I needed to finish grad school. It seemed that I always had a good excuse or the timing was not right. The second guy was also great, but I didn't have chemistry with him. The third one was good, but I wasn't in love with him. The fourth one, I married and divorced. The fifth I loved almost as much as my first, but he had a wandering eye and cheated on me. I suppose I am lucky that they all did love me, but that wasn't the case for me.
My pause for concern is that since someone asked me. I asked myself, could it be that I don't believe in love? Could it be the thing that goes back to childhood where I felt Mom "tossed" me out to live with Grandma, and I never felt love? Could it be that no matter how much I want to love and dream of love, I am afraid to love for fear of abandonment? And has that fear left me to be all alone? How scary it is to so desperately want love and at the same time do everything to "toss" any coming, or is it simply that the "right" one hasn't yet appeared?
I ran off to a foreign island all alone. I ran away from the one who had a wandering eye and devastated me. All alone and with no desire to meet a new love, I secretly yearned for one. Years later, no new love in my life. And more years later, I discovered I didn't move on as I thought I did because I never forgave him, and I was afraid to get hurt again. So, alone I am.
I had the best conversational friend. I mean, we could talk endlessly. We used to meet every week for coffee and talk for a couple of hours. It never seemed to be enough time because we had so much to talk about in conversation. She said her husband would be out of town on business one time, so she had an entire day free. She said we could talk all day and see if we could "finish" talking. As it turned out, I went over to her house, and we spoke for like 12 hours nonstop. The only pause was when one of us needed to go to the bathroom. When she was cooking, we were still talking. I finally left her place, because I got tired to go to sleep! So we agreed we were the best talking pals.
Then I moved to another country. When I came back to the USA, I told her I would only be in town for a week. By then, she had already had a baby and couldn't seem to find a convenient time for her to meet up with me. I offered to meet up with her and her baby, but that didn't work for her. It infuriated me and caused me to question our friendship. If I was only in town for a week and she couldn't make time to see me for even a moment, what kind of friend was that? So, I stopped communicating with her, and once again, I am alone without the most excellent conversational partner.
I traveled to many wonderful new places with a tour group or alone. Why did I do that? I must have the wrong friends. I have friends who don't like to travel, don't have the time, or don't have money. Maybe I don't have any friends, so I find myself alone.
I lived alone for many years. Why? I enjoy it; I need my privacy! Though I enjoy living alone with the freedom it brings, I like to have company, too. I forgave my last love; I'm ready to move on. I realized I was killing off people when there was an ounce of imperfection, but I can now see perfection within imperfections. I learned the abandonment experienced as a child left me to abandon people for fear of being abandoned or hurt again.
If I am alone, I choose it; it is not an accident. If I don't want to be alone, it is up to me to welcome people into my life. It is up to me to receive them without fear of getting hurt or abandoned and without hesitation for the imperfections. Connecting freely with others brings energy to the joy of life and dissipates aloneness.
Key Takeaways: Though I tend to be quiet, and it may make some people uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with being a quiet person; the world needs both quiet and talkative people.
Though he who asked me many questions sometimes annoyed me, I gained new perspectives and discovered more about myself.
Though I have been alone on many occasions, there is nothing wrong with being comfortable with being with myself, and I can always choose to be with others when I want.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Asking for Money, One Romantic Platonic Friendship, and The Wonders of Perspectives II. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please leave a comment, share it on your social media, subscribe on Youtube, or go to www.inspiremereads.com. Thank you for listening!