I’ve known what I wanted to write about this week for a few days now. I’d been writing this post in my head every time I crawled into bed at night. I was editing my thoughts in the shower. Yet despite how refined my mental blog was, this morning’s encounter suddenly seemed like a more interesting story.
Monday through Friday mornings I have a routine. I go into my office building, greet the security guards, show my ID badge, and take the elevator to my floor. Each afternoon, I leave my office building, say goodbye to the security guards, and catch the train home. It’s a very mundane part of daily life that, I’ve observed, most people brush through.
That said, I have the whole “must talk to everyone I see” complex. Around January, when I was desperately searching for some semblance of normalcy and routine in my life, I realized that the same security guards were there each time I arrived and each time I left. Normalcy and routine. I eventually introduced myself and began to anticipate our daily “hellos.”
This morning, as I presented my ID badge and exchanged pleasantries, he stopped me and asked, “What’s one piece of advice that you would have for me?”
In addition to the “talks to strangers” thing, I also have an issue where I immediately catastrophize even basic human conversation.
“Why? Are you leaving here?”
“No,” he responded, “just wanted to see what I could learn from you or if you had any advice you wanted to share.”
Another lady entered the elevator and the doors shut on my promise to “think on it.”
I sat down at my desk and grabbed a sticky note from my drawer:
Advice 1: Ask Questions
There is something to learn from everyone, from every mistake, etc. Take a genuine interest in people
Advice 2: Call People by Name
I thought about saying hello to the security guards each day.
Advice 3: If you’re awake at midnight, dance into the new day.
I paused. For a second, my mind thought to all the good – albeit clichéd – advice I had received in my life: “Follow your dreams.” “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “It’ll get better.” “Be fearless in the pursuit of passion.” “Never give up.”
Then I thought of my advice – weird, quirky, non-backed up one liners that I had discovered in my 23 years of living – spunky things like asking for stamps for Christmas so you could write letters to your friends all year. Those aren’t in the advice books. Those don’t make graduate speeches. Those hardly make sense. But they’re my advice.
I continued to jot down notes throughout the day:
Advice 4: Learn your friends’ birthdays, middle names, and favorite candy bars.
Advice 5: If you can do it in under 5 minutes, just do it. There’s no point in getting upset over something that will only take up a blink of your lifetime.
Advice 6: That said, know where the line is. You are not a doormat.
Advice 7: Greeting hugs. Get at least one hug every day. Be the kind of person someone can count on for a hug when you arrive and when you leave.
Advice 8: Drink lots of water.
Advice 9: Never leave home without a notebook. Unless you’re going running. Then just have a charged phone.
Advice 10: Have at least two songs on your phone. One that makes you cry and one that makes you sing.
Advice 11: Call your tribe. Call your parents, guardians, grandparents, siblings, friends. Call them often. Tell them you love them.
Advice 12: Turn off your phone 30 minutes before bed.
Advice 13: When you wake up in the morning, don’t check your phone until after you’ve packed your lunch.
Advice 14: Eat lots of vegetables.
Advice 15: Flip your phone upside down when you’re working, at a restaurant, or with friends.
Advice 16: When a little kid wants to play freeze tag, play freeze tag.
Advice 17: Compliment three people each day. You don’t have to know them.
Advice 18: Try to watch either the sunset or the sunrise each day.
Advice 19: Do 20 minutes of something you love every single day.
Advice 20: Cry a lot. Life is beautiful.
Advice 21: At least once a day, really taste your food.
Advice 22: Pet all dogs.
Advice 23: Listen more. What’s your advice?