The older I get, the smaller the world seems to become. I hardly meet someone for the first time without us having one or two people that we both know. It’s becoming very annoying to be honest. I remember when I moved back to Lagos in January and a lady was convinced that she knew me. I had no idea where she could have known me from because she was way older than me and we didn’t run in the same social circles. Alas she knew me from someone who knows someone who knows me. Long chain right?
The six degrees of separation theory tells us that we are connected to the next person by six people or less. Increasingly, I am finding that to be true. So this whole idea of the world getting smaller got me thinking. Hasn’t it become more important for us to build a good name and create as many first impressions as we can? Imagine a guy who was known to be a bad boy in secondary school or university and then down the line, he turns his life around. He meets someone who is crucial to his life; maybe a potential life partner or an employer. Then comes along someone who knew him in his ‘bad boy’ days and that person gives a nasty opinion about him. What happens in such a situation? The guy trying to move forward with his life will continue to face constant reminders of the past. For some people, it does not get to that extent while some others are not so lucky.
I really wish there was a way we could see into the future so that we won’t take those terrible steps that will come and bite us in the back in future. I remember people I’ve been mean to in the past when I was much younger. Some still resent me till today. Others have moved on. I know you may say the people that still resent me have issues but the fact is that I never know where I will meet them again and God forbid they are placed in a position where they are to make crucial decisions concerning me. There are people that I’ve bumped into that I never thought I would ever see again and they have turned out to be of great benefit to me.
While we cannot control what we have done in the past, we can make the present count and shape the future yet to come. How do you treat people? Do you value them or treat them like junk? If you haven’t been treating people well, it’s time to change. The world is getting smaller. You never know where they might be tomorrow so don’t look down on anybody. Appreciate people; even the person that cleans your house or the man who opens the door for you at the supermarket. Talk to people courteously. That’s something Nigerians generally are bad at doing but you can be different. I often add ’ma’ or ‘sir’ when I am talking to people who are older than me just to accord them that respect.
When people meet you, leave a positive first impression. Let them feel good after talking with you. If they are the aggressive type, and you will meet a lot of those in this country, just ignore them. I cannot tell you how many times bus conductors have gotten on my nerves with their terrible behaviour but I still smile at them and treat them with respect. We thank God for the blood of Jesus! So you don’t have to be rude to people just because they were rude to you first. Be the bigger person always. I usually think of what I will lose by getting into a battle of words with someone. Aside from dragging myself to the person’s level, onlookers will have a negative impression of me. Have you ever seen two people fighting on the road and insulting each other? You don’t care who is right or wrong; what goes on in your mind is “How can two grown up men be fighting on the road like this?” If you see one of them in the future, it is that image of them fighting that you will remember them with. So you lose a lot by behaving badly. Plus potential le boo might just do a background check on you from mutual and not so mutual friends. Trust me, it happens. Creepy but that’s the reality.
Bottom line is be a light that shines into people’s lives. Spread love, not hate or bitterness. Let your speech be seasoned with salt. If you have nothing good to say, just remain silent. A bad word unuttered can do no damage.