I recently read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of many books in Maya Angelou’s autobiography. What an amazing woman, with immense talent! One of her famous quotes is “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Looking back on the things I’ve said I know that I can be perceived as a know-it-all. I love to research and I battle worry with knowledge. Around having my first child, I read everything I could get my hands on about routines and how to care for them. I didn’t have any experience caring for kids but I always have the policy that I’m open to learning from other people’s mistakes. And of course, I like to share that knowledge in the hope that I can help others.
My first child slept through after eight weeks and I know that many mothers out there want to scream when they read that. I thought I had it all in the bag. Along came the next one and as much as I tried all the same strategies, she did not sleep at eight weeks but closer to two years! That was a humbling lesson for me.
I’m sure I made people feel that they were not doing the right thing or that I somehow knew something magical. I don’t have all the answers. I now believe that each individual justifies special treatment and to be appreciated in their own way. What works for one family doesn’t work for another and what works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another child. I’m a bit wiser now and less of a know-it-all, as contradictory as that might seem.
As an introvert, I often feel as though I’m not heard. If I’m interrupted, I’ll just stop, on the assumption that my views are not valued. We went to a social function recently where we were seated with people we had met but who are not close friends. They chattered amongst themselves about people we didn’t know and when I engaged one particular lady, she flat out ignored me. That left me feeling invalidated at a time when I’m pretty fragile as it is. It doesn’t take much effort or time to merely acknowledge someone and respond to them. But the difference in the way you make them feel can be enormous.
Pondering your purpose makes you think about your legacy. How do I want to be remembered when I’m gone? I’m paying attention to the way I make people feel, primarily for them to be heard and acknowledged. I’m so glad everyone in the world is not like me. Our uniqueness is one of life’s true wonders. We each carry experience, skills, views and such a variety of talents. How interesting it is to learn from others and how important that they are left feeling valued for how special they are.