Dear Woman that I meet in Wal-Mart last year,
If I had the ability to write a real letter, I would. But, I don’t know your address or even your name. If I could I would tell you about the amazing impact you’ve had on my life. Because I can’t I’m writing a letter to you that anyone can read because I want to share the message that you gave to me.
I don’t know if you would remember me if you saw me again or if you would even remember such a brief conversation with another person. I was wondering lost in Wal-Mart seeking rubber gloves and talking to myself. I have a weird habit of vocalizing my internal monologue when I’m shopping. I was asking myself how I could be considered an adult if I can’t even find the rubber gloves in a store. I didn’t even know what section to look in. As I was chastising myself and saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to be an adult because I had no idea what I was doing, you stopped me and smiled. You told me something that I will never forget, “None of us knows how to be an adult. We’re all just making it up as we go.”
I remember being struck by how classy and put together you looked. Your shoes and cardigan were the same shade of blue. You had a cart full of actual essentials that people need and no candy or galaxy print duct tape like my own cart. Your hair was neatly curled and styled and your makeup was subtle but well done. I couldn’t imagine that someone buying a roast could be “making it up as she went.”
You pointed me towards the rubber gloves, smiled and kept walking. I found them, paid at the self check-out to avoid any awkward conversations, then got back in the car. The whole way home, and I live pretty far from Wal-Mart, I was thinking about those words, “None of us knows how to be an adult. We’re all just making it up as we go.” It was honestly one of the most comforting things that I have ever heard.
Even now, a year later I remind myself of your words when I find myself feeling lost. When friends of mine tell me that “adulting is hard” or complain that they don’t understand income tax, I tell them of the time I met you. Your kindness and words of encouragement have become my personal matra. “We’re all just making it up as we go.” When I get lost trying to find something two blocks a way, “We’re all just making it up as we go.” When I find myself in awkward situations that I’m not sure how I got into, “We’re all just making it up as we go.” When I fail at cooking grilled cheese, “We’re all just making it up as we go.”
You’ve helped me live a more optimistic life and allowed me to share that optimism with people around me. I’m sure that you have had a positive impact on pretty much everyone you’ve met and I wish I could tell you how happy I am for that briefest of conversations that we had.