Stranger 7, Day 7 – Meet Elizabeth, the “California Dreamer”

Stranger 7, Day 7 - Meet Elizabeth

I actually briefly met Elizabeth yesterday when I met Bridgett. I thought it be nice to buy Elizabeth’s drink at Octane, a coffee shop at Atlanta Tech Village. No reasoning other than I thought it’d be a nice thing to do. Well, she smiled and thanked me — goal accomplished. However, I also realized that she’s still a Stranger to me. I bought her drink, but didn’t know her name or anything, so fast-forward to today… and she’s my Stranger for Day 8.

Meet Elizabeth, 25

Who are you?

If you’ve read the first two Stranger stories, I started out my “interviews” with “What do you do?” However, I realized that this question is used so often, and the default answer is to go straight into what people do for work. What I really wanted to know was who and how Strangers viewed themselves. So when I asked Elizabeth who she was, she surprised me…

“I don’t know how to answer that,” she said laughing.

She then shared how she’s not one to talk about herself. Instead, she tends to be the one who would “ask a ton of questions of them” (others).

So I’ll get to this after the handshake, but I found her first answer curious.

What are your passions? Dreams?

“My dream was California… dream is to get back to California.”

Elizabeth shared with me how she had spent many years in California straight out of college. In fact, she sold everything she had that wouldn’t fit in two bags, and bought a non-refundable one-way ticket to San Francisco… such was her dream to be a Californian. It was the “easiest decision to this day.” She had always heard of great things about California including receiving little California trinkets from her mom when her mom traveled there for work.

… well, she also admitted NYC would be her ultimate dream, but they have winters.

So for several years, Elizabeth took a tour around California living in San Francisco and San Diego (her last stint) — dream is to live in Santa Monica. She ended up moving back to ATL after the startup she was working for didn’t quite have the right growth opportunities (words like “you know how investing goes” and “politics” were used). She ended up receiving offers from NYC, LA, and ATL, and chose to live in ATL to save money and focus on career experience — “more leverage” with experience.

This, she referred to as, “adulting”.

What was your biggest regret?

“Nothing”. For Elizabeth, she didn’t see her journey with regrets. She saw her choices as just part of her path. She points out that without those choices, she “wouldn’t be sitting with [me].”

She continues to say how all of her decisions and actions, good or bad, help build character — “everything has brought me to this point”.

What Life Lesson would you like to share?

“You don’t know what someone else is going through… let people live… give benefit of the doubt, and don’t take things personally.” When she said this, I got the feeling she had something in her past where others had perhaps judged her too quickly without realizing her situation. Was a good segue into…

What was your Life-Defining Moment?

“When my parents got divorced.” She answered that so quickly that I knew that was true and it had altered her life immediately and will have lasting effects for her.

Elizabeth shared how her parents separated when she was 18 describing the whole divorce process as “nasty”. She was serious, but she was smiling all the while saying this. I realized that she had moved on from this, but also that it was a pretty hard time for her, likely. She shared how she was like a parent to two children.

The whole experience gave her a new view of the world… and to give the benefit of the doubt to others. She also shared how she strives to never act how her parents did.

“Nothing is given to you. Don’t take things for granted… even the small things.” To this, Elizabeth points out just our little chat here. She appreciates the small moments even if we never speak to each other again (doubt it).

She also shares how even the little things are important. She talks about how her best friends are all over the country. Everyone is busy. However, she relishes the seemingly small moments of just a little text that says hello.

What was your last random act of kindness? (Thanks to Bridgett, Stranger 6)

Elizabeth thinks about this for a while and murmurs, “Maybe I should do more…”

She’s unsure what her last act was, and I suspect it could be like how she doesn’t know who she is (or rather, how to describe herself). She may do random acts all the time, but for her, they’re so seamless it’s not random or possibly “nice”. Instead, that’s just what she does.

She thinks hard about it, and finally shares that maybe it’s knowing her multiple roommates’ favorite candies and getting the candies whenever she goes to the store. She does admits, though, that it may not be random at all because she does this normally. (Of course.)

So what question would you like to know about tomorrow’s Stranger?

“If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?” (Place, people, etc.)

After the handshake.

After I took some pictures of her, I showed them to her to get her thoughts. A friend nearby asked if she wanted to add a filter to which she quickly responded, “NO FILTER… DAYYYUMMMM”. Okay, I said I would include that somewhere, so I did. 🙂

So to the first question… for Elizabeth, I may need to think longer on this as to who you are. However, I want to drop this in here now (and possibly add/ modify later) — “you’re a driven woman who lives life pursuing, and will one day achieve, your dream. You know what you have to do and you make short-term, logical sacrifices work with your eyes firmly on the grander dream. You have an incredible energy that allows you to flow from one person to the next seamlessly (I saw this when interacting with others at the coffee shop) because you realize that every little moment is a serendipitous moment towards something great. That something great just happens to be your life. You’re progressive. You know what’s happened in the past, you learn, and you move on.”

I think it’s important to know who you are. It’s not flaunting. It’s not arrogant. Instead, it’s realization of how special you (all Strangers) are. It’s also about why you’re living in the first place. Why are you doing what you’re doing?

So for now, I appreciated this seemingly little moment, and I hope for great moments for Elizabeth in the future.

Meet Elizabeth. No longer a Stranger.

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