Our major milestones in our early lives set us up with a strong foundation for learning and further developing through the rest of our lives. From our first steps to our first words, or from the first-time biking, to the first day of school, all of those are introductory moments that prepare us for the more difficult skills and paths in our life. Personally, one of my most momentous "first" moments was learning the importance of knocking on a door from my brother. My brother not only taught me the significance of knocking on doors, but he also opened my doors in building more meaningful relationships with others down the road in my life.

I distinctly remember the first time I was lectured over knocking on doors. I sat at a little desk in the study room, excitedly painting a picture of a cherry red crab I saw from crabbing the previous week. After I finished my painting, I eagerly jumped out of my seat where I let my tiny, stubby legs carry me to my brother's room to show him my masterpiece. The door had been shut. It was a tall white door that seemed like a massive brick wall to a sacred kingdom. My body, like a small canon, barged into his room without warning. As a 5-year-old, I had no sense of privacy. "Nicole, what are you doing? Get out of my room!"

My brother was sitting next to his girlfriend (now wife), Joy, with his face bright pink. He hurried over to where I was standing at the door, painting at hand and the other hand reaching up on the door handle and scurried me out of his room to lecture me. "When you see that the door is closed, you can't just walk in without knocking..." Joy soon peers outside the room and asks me about what I had been painting. I guiltily showed her my painting. She smiled and said that she wanted to paint another crab with me. While Joy was open and welcoming, my brother had been closed off and unprepared.

Knocking requires patience. You can't ring a doorbell and directly walk into someone's house because you don't have their permission until they invite you in. It's like the three little pigs or three little sheep stories. They refuse to let the big bad wolf in because they are afraid of falling into danger. Opening a door is like opening someone's heart. It reveals their insecurity or their vulnerability, none of which people want taken advantage of. When you first meet someone new, you generally don't open up immediately and begin telling them your deepest, darkest secrets.

Who knows, they could be a big bad wolf in your life. Everyone you meet is a closed-door full of secrets. Maybe some people are ready with welcoming arms, or you may have to knock a few times and wait. Others may leave the door locked, then you'll just have to accept it and move on. Depending on people's past experiences, some people may be more willing to share more than others. People are selective to who they tell their secrets to, it takes time for them to get to know you before they decide to share more of themselves with you. Through the stories they choose to share, you learn so much more about people and what's behind their door. Walking through someone's door is a crucial step in building a stronger foundation to the relationship because it builds trust, and it gives you more insight to who they are not only on the outside but on the inside too.

I choose to knock on people's doors, asking for their permission to come in, because I aspire to find the hidden treasures within them. It's an honor to have someone's trust and be able to learn about who they truly are on the inside. To me, it's not always about the "best" quality in someone that makes them special, it's about the hardships and past experiences that help develop the characteristics they have. It's not only one quality that makes someone unique, but it's also about every characteristic that makes them who they are that's unique. That way, a better understanding between people can be established and their relationships can begin to grow even stronger.

However, it is always important to be mindful of what the other person may be feeling. As willingly as I was to share my painting with my brother, he was unprepared to have his door opened by me. Although I may be eager to share a piece of myself to other people, they may not be ready to accept it and open up. I learned how to be more mindful of other people's feelings and circumstances, more specifically, how other people may respond to my actions before I try knocking a few times into their lives through trial and error within my lifetime so far. It's understandable that if I try to barge into my brother's room, he would want me to immediately leave. That's why it's also important not to push too hard into someone else's life because they may end up wanting to push you away instead. If it were not important to knock on doors, then houses would not have locks to protect what's on the inside.

My brother was my introduction to real-world relationships. He is my mentor, my leader, and my teacher. Most importantly, he is my best friend. Without him, I would be lost and probably still be barging through other people's doors. My introduction and understanding of my surroundings are because he was always the one to open a new door filled with his unique, valuable perspective. Much of who I am and the knowledge I have gathered was through my brother's guidance in helping me grow with my surroundings. Not only has he taught me how to be mindful over other people, but he has also taught me how to protect myself from others who want to come into my life and take advantage of me. He helped me build the foundation to cautiously approach the world around me. A door full of opportunities was opened for me to grow as I began to knock on those doors and move on through life in my own way. He is the reason I understand why knock-knock jokes follow up with "who's there" instead of "come in."