Someone in a headscarf for religious reasons: "I wish I looked that pretty with my hair all covered up."
Someone elderly: "What was your life like? Are you happy? Do you know that younger folk look to you for your wisdom and experiences? I hope you don't feel defeated. You're still important."
Someone carrying extra weight: "You are pretty but you probably don't see it. You're not as big as you think you are, though I know society will never have you believe that either. Strive to be healthy but don't hate yourself. Our bodies work hard and deserve kindness."
Anyone LGBT: "All I want is for you to be happy, happy people are awesome."
Anyone fighting a physical illness or dysfunction: "That one time I had hip bursitis and sat at my desk thinking OMG I wish I had some water right now" but could not walk to the water fountain? I imagine life is hard for you sometimes but you don't complain. I wish I could tell you your struggle isn't lost on me and I appreciate your efforts."
To everyone: "I'm not judging you. I want you to feel welcome in our community, everyone deserves to feel belonged."
I really do think these things.
I wrote this post in my head a few days ago when I caught myself staring blankly ahead from behind my steering wheel at a light while someone struggled through the crosswalk. They glanced over, saw me, and stooped over just a bit more in shame and I suddenly saw myself as they saw me: a grim, unsmiling face.
I thought oh no, they have the posture of someone who has been judged and criticized, I hope they realize that's not what I'm doing right now.
We show acceptance, as primates, by baring our teeth into a grin, and I was not smiling. Indeed, I was stony-faced because I was lost in thought.
I'd like to think this happens more we realize -- so many of us lost in our own world. The pressure to conform socially is so strong that any lack of positive feedback is enough to be immediately construed negatively when it may, in fact, be neutral. Wish it were more obvious when we were wrapped up in our heads and not judging.