I'm a firm believer that you should learn at least something from everyone; even if you don't necessarily care for the person. So here's what I'm doing; I'm publishing another list. It's a list of ten things that I've learned from people. However, it's an anonymous list. I'm not going to say who taught me what. If you're reading this and you're on this list, then there's a good chance you'll know which one is yours.
1. Always be un-apologetically you. This person taught me this not only through example, but by calling me out when I wasn't being myself. She taught me this when she told me that she would rather hang out with me, being me, than with me trying to be who I thought I was supposed to be.
2. Time, as a gift, works both ways. Give it when you can. I'm at a time in my life when I can't necessarily give as much as I'd like to financially. However, what I do have is time. In most cases, time costs almost nothing. This person taught me that even an hour of your time could mean the world to others. And because you have it, you should give it when you can.
3. Demand honesty, and then (here's the catch) be prepared to accept their honesty. This individual is blunt. As long as I've known her, she always has been. To be honest, at first, I didn't know how to act around someone like that. But then it hit me; who knows better how people feel than the person asking how someone feels?! Who better knows what someone actually wants than the person asking what someone wants?
4. Laugh off the small stupid stuff. (A paraphrased version of the spilled milk idea). Look, sometimes you say the wrong thing. Sometimes you don't know exactly how to act. Beating yourself up over the fact that you lacked social grace for those 5 minutes isn't going to make the situation better. In fact, it just makes you feel even worse. This person taught me that if you just laugh it off, maybe laugh at yourself a little, you'll probably feel a little less angry about the situation. I tend to think of these situation as just more ammunition for my aspiring career in comedy.
5. Your gut has your best interests in mind. Your head is just there to screw with you. But seriously, if your gut tells you something, don't argue with it. How many times have you told yourself "Dammit, I knew that was going to happen!" Why did you know? Because of your gut. Why did you ignore it? Because of your head. (ok, so this one was more of a lesson learned because of other people, not a lesson learned from other people).
6. You're not that damn important. Actually, the lesson is that other peoples' actions rarely actually have anything to do with you. It was easy to learn this one, in fact, it's something we kind of learned together because both this individual and I are really sensitive.
7. You'll be ok. I have a friend who has lived a hundred lives. Not all of them preferable, some of them downright awful, but she's the very example that no matter what life throws at you, you can come out of it smiling; you can come out of it a strong person; you can come out of it a damn good friend.
8. You have to create your own happiness. Let me paint you a picture. It's a Tuesday night. You're off work. Your friends are out of town/busy/working/otherwise preoccupied. What then? What happens when you're on your own? I learned this one from a fantastic friend after I went through a bad break-up. I was just sad all of the time because I had left my happiness to be created and controlled by others. She told me that I had to create my own happiness. Thankfully now healing is a little easier.
9. Who am I to judge you? This one was taught to me in a few different but really influential ways; this is one of them. I had a coworker who didn't give compliments. She just didn't. I asked her once why that was, simply for curiosity's sake. She told me that it wasn't her place to deem something worthy of praise, and on the other end, it wasn't her place to make negative comments. Some people might think that's cold, but it's the way she was and I think she definitely had a point. Either way she definitely offered a new perspective.
The bottom line is this; you're using your life to teach others, whether you like it or not. What lessons are you teaching?