It is a Friday evening in June. I was planning to connect with a forever friend, the kind of person I’ve known since we were both eleven. She has been going through some monumental transitions in life recently. In the last few weeks, she hasn’t been feeling well and is doing her best to cope with her raw emotions. She had a low-key night. I completely understood and empathized with her.
A stop at Barnes & Noble and at a bite to eat nearby was the plan. Simple, and nothing crazy in-store.
I love perusing bookstores, grabbing a perfectly warmed soy hot chocolate with just a dollop of whip cream and Japanese cuisine. It is the simplest and smallest things in life that can make me happy.
I parked the car and headed inside the bookstore, where I tried this novel concept, where I complimented three unique people at Barnes & Noble. In a busy world, where many keep to themselves these days, I just wanted others to be seen and provided with recognition. Something that I know needs to happen more often than not.
I decided on a salad and soup for dinner and sat at the restaurant's small bar, at a place I occasionally enjoy. I sat at the bar because I was a little anxious about sitting alone at a 2 top table. I quickly sat down at the sushi bar, acknowledged, and smiled at the person sitting a few seats away.
The server stopped by and took my drink order, ice water, returned to drop the full glass off, asked me for my order, a tofu salad with ginger dressing, and a small bowl of Miso soup.
While I sat waiting for my food order, I pondered friendships, life’s constant ups, downs, and everything in between while texting an old friend from high school. I believe that part of me wanted to appear as though I was preoccupied, but I was more aware of my surroundings in reality.
My soup and salad were eventually dropped off by one of the restaurant servers along with a fork; chopsticks don’t do the job for me. I have to share. This brief part of me gets anxious when I am sitting with someone else who uses chopsticks. I feel a little inferior when it happens; they can do something I haven’t quite achieved yet.
While eating dinner with my fork and spoon in use, I noticed the server I had never stopped back to check how my meal was and if I needed anything. I had to accept those facts, even though I wanted to be acknowledged and seen, also though I felt like those two details barely happened.
While the above took place, two gentlemen sit down a seat away from me, one in his early fifties and the other is somewhere in his 20s, from what I could tell.
I can’t help but overhear pieces of their conversation. I hear the older man having a one-sided conversation with his friend, sharing the importance of a person’s emotional, mental state is. If his friend exudes happiness, he will feel it, be happy, and change his whole personal world.
I noticed how much the 20 something guy resisted the conversation. His entire demeanor changed immensely. Foot tapping on the ground often starred at his phone during the whole discussion, gave quick answers, and never looked up. I could feel how anxious he was, and I felt so much for him.
I wondered how many others noticed that state he appeared to be in. The restaurant wasn’t that busy. I wondered if the staff saw, too, or if they were in their working worlds. I wondered what the relationship was between these two people. Father and son? Uncle and nephew? Life coach and client? I did not understand; I was a fly on the wall in this situation.
This story isn’t about me entirely; this is about every person on this green earth, which encompasses so much more.
I wanted to tell him everything will be okay and that it eventually gets better. I wanted to say to him, I see you; I hear you. Unfortunately, anxiety creates the need to be seen and heard, understood, and validated. We are all in this life thing together.
I sincerely regret not saying something or doing more. Perhaps that’s why I am sharing this story.
I know this conversation all too well lately; I related so much as I am working on myself. However, I didn’t want to pry, so I didn’t burst into the conversation.
Anxiety and depression are real. Some people say the two don’t exist because they haven’t experienced either for themselves. Some may minimize it and pretend it’s nothing. People want to be seen and heard and know that everything will be okay.
I urge you to be present with yourself, your family, your friends, someone sitting a few seats away at dinner, the person sitting alone at lunch at school, the workplace, anywhere you’re surrounded by people or solely on your own. Then, find a way to help because you never know you may change someone’s day or even save a life.
So, where ever you are, the twenty-somethings boy with glasses, brown hair, and an anxious look, I see you; I hear you, and tomorrow will be a good day.