I was browsing through YouTube last night when I came across a video called "Who is one stranger that you remember?" so I decided to watch it to see if it was any good. The video, posted by Thoraya Maronesy (check out her channel, her videos are uplifting and heartbreaking all at once), gave a fascinating look inside the minds of random strangers being asked to recall a random stranger from their own life.
The stories varied from someone receiving a kind compliment on the street to a woman describing a sunset to a young blind girl. What I found to be the most interesting thing about the whole video was how overwhelmingly positive most of the responses were. In a society that tends to thrive on tearing other people down, it was heartwarming to hear the stories that people shared about people that they didn't even know, and would never see again. When I scrolled through the comment section I was pleased to find even more stories from strangers about strangers, almost all of which ended with the sentiment of "I hope they're doing well wherever they are."
Of course, I could turn this into a piece about how you never know what people are going through and one simple smile or a kind word could turn their day around, which is true; spreading kindness is something that I will always do my best to praise and promote.
Instead, I will share this: I sent the video to my friend and he responded by asking me who one stranger that I remember is. I told him that none came to mind at the moment (somehow every stranger I have ever encountered had disappeared to hide in the darkest crevasses of my memory).
I countered the question, to which I got two different stories of two different strangers. I thought, "Wow, imagine having such an impact on someone that they share that story with other people and you don't even know it." But the next thought that entered my brain was this: all my favorite strangers have become my friends. It's super cliche and cheesy, but it's the truth - the strangers that have had the biggest impact on me have all become pivotal people in my life, lifting me up when I need them and giving me endless love and support.
Everyone is a stranger until you get to know them. Even our families are strangers to us at one point. So maybe the reason I have a hard time remembering a stranger that impacted me that I never saw again is that I chose to keep the most influential strangers in my life. This is not to say that I don't come across random people who make my day a little bit brighter - just the other night the guy working the Taco Bell drive-thru made my night by coming up with a new name for every item we ordered, just to add a little excitement to a process that would otherwise be uneventful. Small things like that can make a big difference for even just one person.
I guess my whole point is that while it's easy to feel like the things we do and say don't matter or aren't important, videos like Thoraya's can help remind us that we do have impacts on people, whether they be positive or negative, and we also have so many people in our lives, who aren't strangers anymore, who we have such a terrific impact on. Just keep that in mind as a small reminder to send love out into the world and you will receive love, and if you haven't yet, go try to make someone's day, because you never know who may need a kind word or a smile. And who knows, maybe the next stranger you meet will become an important part of your life.