During COVID, most high schoolers took the opportunity to remain anonymous in class. That is, they opted to turn off their camera and become a black square for the year. Picture 32 black squares on a screen. Everyone did this.
But not my daughter. She kept her camera on, made faces to keep herself entertained, and raised her hand a lot. It took courage, but it was worth it.
The following year, with in-person school back in session, she got lost in the halls — it’s a big school — and someone came up to her (something high school kids rarely do: go up to someone.)
They’d recognized her from the virtual classroom. After an awkward high-school hi, they pointed her in the right direction.
On the same day, in those busy halls, one of the other black squares asked her a question. Another black square waved hello. Would-be-strangers warmer than usual, coming out of the dark to connect with a face and a hand.
We can learn a lot from my high schooler. When in a crowd, at a conference, in a meeting, or standing in a line waiting for food, instead of opting to be another black square, show your face and raise your hand.
You never know who’s listening, who will be the one to help you, or who you might help.
We stay on the inside a lot, even though all the good things happen on the outside.
And it doesn’t take much to meet in the middle.