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Everywhere you go, all around you, there are people. Some that look just like us and some that look so different. Some we think we know, and others we assume we know everything about. This post is about how everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own life. Everyone is their own person. It’s just up to us to recognize and appreciate them for where they have been and where they have to go.

I hung out with a pretty random group of people today. J, D, L and R. R is the only male in the bunch. We went out to dinner and the restaurant most people in Harrisonburg have never seen before because it’s sign is too small to see from the road, and at this restaurant their straws are made of paper so they get soggy and dissolve in your drink, the food was pretty good though. (D is the new marketing intern there so she’s going to try to get them to change those few things). But dinner wasn’t was astounded me, it was after dinner.

We decided to go on a walk. It was a pretty long walk and throughout the walking we kinda shifted around and have group and random one-on-one conversations. I don’t know if I’m someone who naturally pulls people’s life story out of them, but I learned a lot about these people. (I only really was good friends with one, and had met another, the other two this was our first time meeting.)

So my friend J – she is an incredible person. She battles Lyme disease on a daily basis, is a student, and still in everything she does looks to encourage anyone she can. I did find out something new about her tonight though! She throws that secret slumber parties — you know that adult ones for women, to buy products. WOW. That was a shocker. She said she makes a lot of money and she showed us some of the product! Oh my, call me naive, or inexperienced, or innocent, or whatever but I was totally shocked at some of it! That was definitely a new experience for the day! Jamie is great like that – lives life so full, even though she has a lot of illness. That inspires me. Now while selling adult novelty products is definitely not for me, I think it’s great that she had the courage!

Now, D, is a girl I met in a class and she is super sweet and kindhearted. Sometimes I wish I had more of that welcoming spirit that she does. She also has a story. Two of her family members have struggled through and survived cancer, and her brother is mental ill – currently in a mental health hospital getting treatment for bipolar disorder. Did I mention to you that she is in college!! She’s incredibly strong, and if you ask her how her day was she’d say – “great you?”

L (the final girl) and R I met tonight. But just by what I can tell from them they have big stories too, and seeing them for their stories makes you feel more compassionate for individuals, and more inspired to treat them with respect.

L starts her first semester as a JMU student in the fall and doesn’t really know what exactly she wants to do yet. It seemed like she wanted to say nursing, but the difficultly of it intimidated her. It seemed like she didn’t want to commit to much of anything, and almost like she was looking for direction. I really felt for her. JMU is a huge school, and was overwhelming sometimes even after I was there for a long time. She also talked a lot about some rough past roommate experiences. Other than that I didn’t get to talk to her too much, but you know that feeling when you’re positive there is a lot more to a person than what meets the eye. I felt that way with L today.

Finally R – OK, R makes a joke out of almost everything. He’s easy going though and easy to be around. But in my dire need for a diet coke, the two of us started talking about food and eating and he shared with me that his mom has an eating disorder. In that moment my heart went out to him because of my struggle and because so many women in my family have struggled. It’s was if for a second a little bit of who he is underneath the jokes shined through.

Sometimes with mental illness you want to isolate and hide from the world, today however I didn’t do that. I’m anxious about my job stuff but I got to spend wonderful time with some great people – who all have stories to shape them and make them.

Who do you tell your stories to?