Maybe when he condescendingly asked you what the point is of looking at the stars every night, he wasn’t trying to be rude. Being humbled by the immensity of the sky might be your muse, but he has always avoided looking up because his whole life all he ever felt was small.
Maybe what that stranger at the bus stop meant by complimenting your smile was that they couldn’t remember the last time they themselves smiled and that they admired your ability to carry such a genuine one on your face.
Maybe when she told you that you meant the world to her, it was more about the fact that she’d never said that to anyone before than it was about what you did for her. Maybe it was more about the fact that the words “I love you” petrified her soul, and still, she chose to be brave for you.
Maybe the most beautiful thing about it all wasn’t what you did for her, but what she did for herself . She reached depths inside herself she never knew existed, she did something she said she would never do, she allowed herself to love; she allowed her love to be known.
It is not about you, it is about the awakening of a soul, how in these moments she became an entirely new person simply because she chose to.
Recognition presents itself throughout our lives as compliments, displays of affection, words of affirmation, and sometimes judgment. When we receive recognition, many of us assume that it is a direct reflection of how the world sees us.
Nobody stops to think that maybe such things say less about those who are recognized and more about those who choose to recognize.
Most of us receive a compliment or a judgment for what it appears to be, and ironically, we take credit for the recognition we receive despite the fact that the ideas associated with it are not even our own, but rather of the person who is recognizing us.
You see, somebody reaching out to you could really be attempting to reach inside themselves; to understand themselves a little bit better. It could have hardly anything to do with you, and absolutely everything to do with them.
The things people notice tell us what is important to them. What stands out in a person’s eyes provides insight to one’s values, fears, and passions.
From this perspective, the world is a more compassionate place. There is an understanding that a criticism, a compliment, especially a judgment, is a sign of where a person’s heart lies at the time.
With this, we might be less quick to assume ego or take offense and instead recognize that a person can only understand things to the level they have understood themselves.
A person is not more or less simply because he or she does not understand something; we are all on different journeys, going at our own pace.
There is something beautiful about the way we learn from one another despite being on separate paths, and the way everything eventually unfolds for us through our experiences with the world and interactions with each other.
It is remarkable how the same interaction can touch each person involved so individually.
Someone once told me that a person’s opinion of me is really none of my business; it is their own opinion, shaped by their own values, influenced by their own thoughts.
So instead of taking it to heart, recognize that such things are a reflection of their heart, and choose to be compassionate amidst a person’s unique journey through life.
Previously published on ThoughtCatalog.