Stranger 51, Day 51 – Meet Even, the “Sincere”

Stranger 51, Day 51 - Meet Even

I was excited today because today’s Stranger would push me into the second half of this journey — 51! It’s been a pretty long journey so far, and I’m just barely over halfway. Some days, it seems so fast; while others, I feel like I’ve been on this journey for a long, long time.

I was back at Starbucks working today — not a surprise, but I did get out a bit to have lunch with a colleague and get some yoga in. First, I was turned down at Starbucks in the morning due to the picture. As I walked around later in the afternoon, I asked a Stranger sitting at a table doing work. She was game to be today’s Stranger. However, I learned she was 17, and her parents weren’t nearby. I didn’t want to take the chance. So onwards!

I did finally meet today’s Stranger at my yoga studio. Upon telling her about this project (and asking her to be the Stranger today), she excitedly accepted while diving straight into how she connects with others. So let me start from there…

Meet Even, 34 (pronounced āvən)

Before we start, Even shares how she and her husband try to sit at the bar as much as possible to engage with others. She recognizes that we, as a community, are so focused on what’s in front of us — largely our phones. Then, she recalls a trip she recently took.

“I remember one experience I had in Amsterdam, and I was with my cousin and one of my girlfriends. We were chatting locals. We were actually in Utrecht, not Amsterdam. We were at a bar, and just hanging out. These guys were like, ‘what’s the point of saying, ‘hi, how are you?’, if you’re always going to say, ‘good.’ What’s the point? You’re so insincere.'”

“Well, that’s kind of like how we greet one another, and it could spur on another conversation. For the most part, we’re like, ‘good, alright, bye!’ It’s just so insincere. If you’re not going to sit there and start a conversation, why would you even say anything to begin with?”

“That has always stuck out in my head — why do we do that? Why isn’t there anymore depth to it?”

She goes on to share how she likes more substantive (substantial) questions — “just so much more intimate”.

Who are you?

“Who am I?” She starts laughing. “You’re deep, dude!” Haha, I guess! I like more substantive questions, too.

“That’s a really hard question…”

“I am a passionate, cheerful, loving, and loyal person… who loves everyone,” she laughs some more.

Why do you love everyone?

“Why do I love everyone? Because we’re all the same. No one is better than anyone else. I think we all have our own vices that we hide behind, and we all put up a representative instead of just being ourselves. I think that that if people can get past that, then they’ll realize that we’re all the same. We might believe in different things, or think different things, but we’re all the same — when it comes down to our bones.”

Is that why you say hello to a lot of people, especially in your travels?

“Yes, I do. Because not only do I like to say hello because we’re all the same, but because I learn a lot from those people. I learn different perspectives in life, different ways of thinking, different habits and activities. I like to learn about different cultures, and what people want to do and how they think. What is their perspective might be on a similar subject of mine. Because it kind of expands my own mind, and helps me see things differently.”

So what are your passions?

“Well, number one is helping others. I like to give back to the community. I like to give my time. I think sometimes I get distracted, though, and giving too much to others instead of taking care of myself. That’s one of those struggles I’m trying to work on. But for the most part, I like to give back, and help people in whatever way, shape, or form that is.”

Thinking about how people work, or “tick and tock”, how do you work?

“That’s a very complex question,” Even laughs.

“How I work… I like to look inside and find the root of a problem or a cause — why am I being positive about that, or why am I being negative about that? And try to be active and introspective with myself. I definitely have a hard time accepting help from others. I can be very independent, strong, kind of like… ‘okay, I got this’ kind of thing. I guess I think by being surrounded by people in positive situations, but at the same time, I do like to retreat and have quiet time and rooted. I guess that’s when I go introspective. Because sometimes, the chaos can be too much. I guess that’s how I tick!”

I notice Even’s got a tattoo of “Be Still” on her wrist. Thinking about being introspective about everything, what’s the inspiration behind your tattoo?

“The inspiration behind that was… about 5 years ago. I really had a hard time with control and letting go. Just letting things be. Accepting the way things are. I really got into the church and Christianity. There was a Bible verse with, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Psalm 46:10. It really just spoke out to me. So there’s something else — control this, and I can just trust in that and be okay with it. It was more about acceptance, and try not to control things or situations or people or the way people think or whatever. Just be. Just really hard to do. It’s really hard to be still which is why I love yoga because it helps you practice that.”

I mention that’s why certain yoga classes are hard for me — being still. She agreed, “Pigeon is really hard because I cannot sit still in that pose.”

How do you feel you’re able to fulfill your soul? (Thanks to Danielle, Stranger 50)

“That was a really deep one. I like it, though.”

“I would say knowing your character strengths and living them. Doing things that can help you with those, so like, for me, one of character strengths is appreciation of beauty. So with that, I need to make sure I’m out seeing things that I think are beautiful — go to the mountain. I think travel is beautiful — make sure I travel. Because if you don’t do those things, you won’t be fulfilled.”

“Or like me, I like to help people. So guess what? That’s why I volunteer.” Even goes on to tell me that if she doesn’t, then she won’t feel fulfilled.

So in summary, know your character strengths, and be deliberate in the actions to meet those strengths.

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“Why do you think people discriminate in private, and why do you think when you’re riding on MARTA, nobody has that anger and frustration out in public? They’re not yelling at each other, calling each other names? Why do they do it in private? If that’s really how they feel, why don’t they just tell somebody. Let’s not hide behind it.”

“Everyone can get along in public, but then we all have to hate each other on the computer? What’s the point?”

After the handshake.

Even and I talked a bit before my class started about this whole project. Specifically, she was curious about how this project came about — can read About 100 Strangers, 100 Days. She was fascinated most because, I think, she really enjoys connecting with others. She talked about how she liked meeting others to also expand her perspective which has been a perk I’ve realized through this journey. In fact, part of me wants to ask what everyone does, and their top 3 challenges they face — they’d be quick customer discovery sessions to seed a startup idea! I digress…

Even also shared how much she, too, has diverse friend groups. Her challenge is bringing them together. She shared how she connects better in more intimate settings — with 1-2 others rather than larger groups. I think all of this gives her a chance to really get to the substantive aspect of people rather than the surface-level questions and interactions.

I think there’s a lot to talk to Even about, and I’m fascinated by people in much of the same way. Looking forward to connecting with her in the future more at the studio and just around.

Also, note that Even chose her picture to be of the very yoga pose she struggles most with — pigeon. Cool stuff.

Meet Even. No longer a Stranger.

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