I was awakened to the phenomenon of the power of a Stranger giving a sincere and acute compliment, while I was in college. Dipping into my inner confidence, but far from the stretches of perfection, I walked to the bank one day to deposit the earnings from my swing-shift job. As I stood in line, balancing my weight from one leg to the other, I held my head high, not because it belonged in that position, but because I believed in the consistency of building the woman I wanted to become. Sure of herself. Love bursting from the inside. Gratitude for trials. Hope for the future.
I stood there, letting my mind drift, completely driven to prove that my imperfections were to be worn like a crown. I half smiled as I sorted through the formula in my 21-year old self, of using my mind to architect and build how I wanted to be seen. Just as I did, from a distance away, I saw a man, college age, walking toward me. Fast. A pace with intent. There is an uncomfortable urge to get out of someones way when they have such purpose. Yet, I could see, his path of A to B, was really from Him to Me. Shocking, heart-beating, emotion took over. I was not the kind of face, the kind of girl, with the kind of magnetic energy, to pull a man to me.
He was handsome, tall, and determined. His dark hair moved as he walked toward me. A loose groove, and an underlined grit to his motive. He locked eyes with me — not letting go. I wanted to look away, this was so new to me, but stayed focused. Captured. He walked straight to me, then paused, eyes still locked. He was so close to me I could feel his scent engage with my aura, and as that moment triggered the next, he whispered loud enough that it rocked my soul, “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”
I felt it. Stranger words. The life changing power of one person.
He stood next to me, only long enough to recognize I felt the delivery of his message. I was awe struck, smiling, and trying to understand the river of shock running down my spine. My dynamite blasting cap had been lit.
Then just as smooth as he entered my orbit, he exited.
I never saw him again.
25 years later those words still ring through my mind. Why? Because there is mighty power in the compliment of a total stranger.
1 — Reshaping their Path
One phrase changed my path. For that night. For the following week. And long into adulthood. He didn’t know the inner struggle I had been dealt, yet, with his words, not only did I FEEL beautiful, I BECAME beautiful. All of the self-talk, became my reality. His brief interaction was my new mantra. I felt invincible!
Our words carry with them energy to alter, for positive or negative, the course of thoughts and actions of those we connect with. Why are stranger words so rewarding? The unexpected unlocking of dopamine.
2 — Delivering the Message of the Universe
When we tune into the consciousness of the Universe, and become aware of who is in our space, our minds are much more open to jumping out of our comfort zone and into the space of someone who needs us. Pause. Listen. Contribute. That little voice you hear, then often ignore? To reach out to a stranger and say the words you feel, in that very moment? So much easier to ignore, and let the time pass.
There is great courage in being bold and finite in our exchanges. Overthinking nothing. Ignoring only your doubts.
3 — Closer than we Think
I once heard that we are all here, sharing Earth, in an effort to walk each other home. Our trials are heavy, unique, and beautifully customized just for us. When we open our hearts to realizing that we all need encouragement, blended with kindness, bonded by the human experience — our perspective shifts. In an age where digital communication rules, there is something so soft and comforting about stopping to help a stranger, with words, and action.
Start where you are; make a strangers day.
The Impact of a Stranger’s Words was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.