Years ago my Dad gave me a fantastic piece of advice. I was only about 8 at the time but I still remember it clearly. It was a period of my childhood where I wasn’t overly good at making friends. I was shy and nervous, not very surprising I guess considering my troubles a couple of years earlier.
I did the best I could but I just seemed too odd and out of place. I just had no confidence whatsoever. I was taking swimming lessons at the local University pool thanks to my Dad being a student there. One day on the way there, my Dad gave me a crucial piece of advice: always smile at people.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? And it is but sometimes it’s the simple things that you need to be reminded of. Especially when you’re an awkward 8 year old.
After the swimming lesson, I went to the nearby vending machine to buy a drink. There was another girl about my age already there. I smiled at her.
17-18 years later and we’re still great friends. She’s the friend who returned from Australia last week. While we might not always see each other as often as we’d like, we’re always keen to chat when we do get in touch. Throughout growing up, many of my happiest memories are associated with her. We were both X-Files addicts for many years. I remember when we were 13 sneaking in to see The X-Files film. The excitement we both felt that finally Mulder and Scully kissed. The times we’d go on the computer and look at the internet – well, mostly AOL channels. The times I’d decided I’d fallen in ‘love’ with someone and her ever patient and understanding advice. She’s always been supportive luckily!
Nowadays, she’s a junior doctor in the local A&E and I’m part retail worker, part aspiring writer. She’s still understanding though. It feels somewhat bizarre when she congratulates me on gaining extra responsibility at work or commiserates when I have a ‘long’ shift when all I can think of is ‘but you save lives!’. It’s fantastic that she’s that grounded though. After all, she does save lives!
Amazing what a smile can do, eh?