My eyes are brown, but thank you Kelly Clarkson. Nevertheless, the song has a powerful meaning behind it, which I learned today to interpret it as: you never know.
You see a person, make a judgment or categorize a face, and move on. It’s how we process information into our memory and sometimes, retrieval cues will signal the memory from a pile of stored information.
But how do you really know a person, or what they’re going through? How well do you know the people around you?
Take, for instance, a few individuals in my chemistry and psychology statistics course. Whenever I go to my biology lab every eight hours, I’ll see other lab partners on the same schedule and I’ll recognize faces! I never thought that these peers of mine were also in my genetics class, experiencing the same time-commitment for this semester’s mapping project.
Or, for instance, my father.
I finally went to visit his work today, hopping on the ‘Mason to Metro’ shuttle, crossing metro lines at Rosslyn, and taking another bus to the main center. In my professional attire and spectacles, I stopped on the wrong floor before I was redirected to the highest level. Finally walking in, the company’s office occupied the whole floor and I looked up to see him standing there.
I was finally at his work. For my university 100 class we are required to shadow a few companies to gain a greater understanding of applying our majors to the work force. Interestingly, the class has allowed us to build our resumes, challenged us to visit the job fair, and pushed us to keep challenging ourselves in our future paths.
So, I was introduced to every employee of the company, spanning analysts, accountants, business developers, and even the top vice presidents and executive. I was amazed to see how hard-working everyone was, finding joy in each other’s presence and encouragement during the toughest/busiest season for their company.
In essence, I learned about the true interworking of any business and how all of the responsibility falls on several people’s shoulders. If I were walking on the street and saw any one of these individuals, I wouldn’t know that at their company, it was stress overload season.
As I was on my way to biology lab, I didn’t know I would be seeing several familiar faces. As I went to a new club meeting, I didn’t expect to see faces from my gym class (cardio kickboxing at the Aquatic Center, free for Mason students), acquaintances from the beginning of the school year, or my peer advisor.
I never realized how much everyone’s life deviates from an expected routine everyday, just like mine. And perhaps it sounds far-fetched but it’s easy to forget that despite the craziness of your life, people are spending just as many hours devoted to their priorities as well. Even if those priorities are different, varying upon age and work experience, people who are working—and working hard—are all contributing to a common goal of excellence and improvement.
So, as we each work towards our own goals, even if it’s making it to spring break, it’s interesting to remember that behind those eyes of a stranger could be the same emotions behind yours.