I felt something horrible the other day. Something that I thought was so simple a thing, yet, had caused me to spiral into a thought process that didn't lead to a very nice place. I had a thought of despair for the people around me. Before I get into where I'm going with this blog post, I should probably explain what actually happened.
I finished work the other day, like any other normal six o'clock finish and left for my usual bus stop. It was still sunny so I wasn't fussed about running and catching the bus I knew was coming, I wouldn't have minded walking a little further to the next one if it meant staying out in the sunshine a little longer. Walking around, minding my own business, I spotted a group of women coming towards me. Nothing out of the ordinary with that, something that I see over and over in a busy public place, however this time was different. One of the women was wearing an absolutely beautiful dress, patterned and layered and from a distance, definitely looked hand made. It was gorgeous.
I then, whilst still walking towards her, stumbled into two trains of thought; I firstly wanted to talk to the woman walking towards me and tell her that her dress was absolutely beautiful and ask her if it was in fact hand made. The other thought was telling me not to mention anything because complimenting a complete stranger on their clothing is weird and she'd probably think I was trying to be sarcastic or something.
I chose to follow the latter train of thought and let her walk past me.
I thought about that decision for the rest of the day and even came home and ranted solidly for a good thirty minutes to my boyfriend, who, thanks to his caring nature, sat there and listened to me ranting about a situation that he was neither present for or probably cared about. Thanks, Craig.
I thought about how that compliment might have made that woman's day, yet I chose to stay quiet.
Staying quiet bothered me to the point of not being able to stop thinking about it. I realised that in this society, where we are encouraged to speak our minds, especially online, stand up for ourselves and challenge the perception of others, it's still so much easier to abuse someone than it is to pluck up the courage to compliment a stranger on their dress.
And that's the problem, isn't it? Why has it gotten to the point where drama, bitchiness and general lack of support from others is more commonly expected than a simple compliment to someone? So many times I've found myself thinking something about someone, that could potentially change their day for the better, yet stayed quiet about it. That's not something that I'd like to continue. That one missed compliment to the woman in the dress has bugged for going on five days now, and if I could go back to that point and decide all over again, I definitely would choose to tell her that her dress was beautiful.
I think everyone could stand to do the same. So many times a day I hear about people saying nasty things about others or tweeting abuse to others online (I'm looking at certain Twitter users here!). What I don't think people realise is that we've grown to accept that 'hate' is more common than a simple compliment. I've had a little share of 'hate' before and simply laughed it off, blocked them, and carried on with my life, never thinking about it again. Yet, when I receive a compliment, that resonates with me and changes my attitude. I get a boost of confidence, I smile more, I appreciate that whoever said it went out of their way to make me happy, and that is a lovely thought.
People need to realise that something as simple as a compliment could completely change someones day. We need to realise that staying quiet with the lovely stuff has given volume to the hateful stuff instead. This needs to change. I don't want to live in a world where it's easier for me to go online and send someone abuse through a phone or laptop than it is for me to make someones day with a simple gesture of courage through words.
I think typing this all out has given me some cathartic relief and has definitely convinced me to change my outlook on when to stay quiet and definitely when not to. I'd love to hear some opinions on this, so please comment if you've ever experienced anything similar or even agree with me. Or even if you don't, I'd love to hear both sides.