I think my favorite thing about myself is my friendliness. I think it’s just my nature to go out of my way to be friendly, but I also learned from my parents that no matter what, I should always be nice. I also learned a little bit from all of the people who used to bully me. They could pick on me for my hair, my hand-me-down clothing, or the fact that I was taller than every other kid in my class, but one thing they coulnd’t say was that I was mean. We’ll come back to that tall thing later.
I knew what it was like to be bullied and belittled and I promised myself that I would never make anyone feel as bad as I did as a kid. I wasn’t even mean to the kids who were mean to me. I always smiled, waved or said hi to them and they could acknowledge the greeting or not. That’s something that has stuck with me into adulthood. It’s still the thing I like most about myself.
My husband and my kids think I’m a big goofball because I smile and wave really big. They try to hide and pretend they don’t know me when I do it. When someone lets me pass them on the highway, I wave at them, but not like a “normal” wave that other people do. I wave at them like they’re my best friend. Everyone is my best friend. They just don’t know it.
I love to make people laugh so if my exuberance gets a smile or a chuckle out of someone, or I’ve pulled them out of whatever funk they woke up with, my job is done. Even though I know when people don’t like me, you really can’t tell that I know. Well, a few of my closest friends may know that I know, but I treat them just like I treat everyone else. With a smile, a hi and a great big wave.
I love walking around the grocery store saying “hi” to people. I will never walk into United and not say hi to everyone I see, whether I know them or not, or whether they like me or not. Sometimes I have to force myself because I’m having a bad day, but it’s worth it because making someone smile, makes me smile and that puts me in a better mood. I’m so friendly that I’m sure some people are left wondering if we’ve met before. That happens to me at least once a day. But rather than ask if I know them and risk embarrassing the both of us, I just go with it and hope something in the conversation sparks a memory.
The point to all of this is this. Be friendly. It doesn’t cost anything. I will never stop saying “hi” or smiling at people, no matter what anyone has to say about it. I’ve seen too much mean in the last few months.
Now, back to the tall thing. I never really noticed how much taller I was than everyone else until last year, when my dad thought it would be hilarious to pull out some old school and church programs I had been in. I had one of the lead roles in this church play and sometimes my head was cut off in the video because I was so tall. In first-grade, I was normal height. So somewhere between first- and fifth-grade I had a huge growth spurt. But one thing that never changed between those two videos was my childish exuberance for whatever I was doing. I wish that childish trait would be the one that could stay with us all.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.