A very enthusiastic, genuine and kind listener named Jean calls me nearly on a daily basis to chat.
She’s a single mother of three, an immigrant from Africa and suffers from a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis (aka: Von Recklinghausen disease). Some of the visible symptoms are bumps, disfigurement and discoloration on her body.
Jean told me it’s incredibly difficult for anybody to accept her or want to be near her because she is looked at with fear.
Although she is currently employed, she has been turned down for jobs in the past due to potential employers seeing her as a deterrent to customers and a distraction to employees.
She told me that on a daily basis, nobody will sit next to her on the bus or on benches. Some even ridicule her in public.
Jean manages to maintain a bright and loving view about her life and stays positive despite the obvious difficulties she faces.
When I answer the request line and I hear her voice, it’s an immediate reminder how I should embrace and appreciate all positive things in my life.
The fact is, compared to Jean, my life has not been difficult. I’m thankful that Jean has come into my life, albeit as a voice through the request line. Knowing her is humbling and important reminder on how to embrace differences and brush up on our empathy.
The lesson? Be appreciative of the good things and not to focus on inconveniences or petty differences.
Take a deep breath, reflect, and smile. Do good. Rinse and repeat.