A man stands alone, looking out in the world.

People like to imagine that they are the main and only characters in their story.

At a young age, we are taught that in order to truly succeed, we must take control of our destinies at any cost necessary. Schools, corporate environments, and households in countries all over the world beat the idea of achievement into our heads before we develop and truly grasp a basic understanding of empathy and compassion.

Instead of love and affinity, the ideology of “winning” takes a firm precedent over how communities operate. “Losing” is not to be tolerated. Power, and all of the spoils that go along with it, is ceremoniously awarded to the victors.

Letting someone else from the outside circle voice their life experience is ominously foreign. Opening the door for a dissimilar existence allows a foundation of what you thought you once knew to be turned completely upside down on its ugly, dated head.

Opening up your world to other stories is necessary to attain legitimate prosperity.

Understandably, the thought of there being an unknown, expansive universe that you were previously unaware of is frightening. It will make you sick to your stomach. Anxiety will develop. Coping mechanisms may stop functioning. You will question everything you learned up until now.

That is the first enlightened step of becoming aware.

Gloomily, the art of listening is on the verge of extinction. As a society, we cannot allow that to happen. Instead of drilling boisterous and oftentimes obnoxious sounds into the person sitting across from us, we should learn to open up our hearts and ears.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others have sparked a heavy discussion about the somber reality of the times we are currently living in. Black lives matter. A rational person understands that the statement isn’t up for debate.

Acknowledging and really listening to stories without talking over them is the only way we can grow. Embrace the words and feelings of someone who isn’t you. By doing that, you will be a leading force in a positive change that is necessary for the world’s continued survival.

Yes, your story is important. So is the story from the person standing right next to you.