One of Billions

Every now and then, it’ll hit me, the vastness of the world that we live in.

I try not to think about it often, because it’s something I’m just too small to comprehend.

Every single day, I see potentially hundreds of people. I go to a pretty big school—there’s literally no way I could know the faces of all my classmates. When I’m at the mall or the amusement park with my friends, we see hundreds of people who are complete and utter strangers. Just going grocery shopping, or driving on the freeway, or walking the dogs, I see hundreds and hundreds of unique individuals, whose paths may never cross with mine again.

It’s difficult for me to comprehend that every single person I see has their own unique story, their own hopes and fears and dreams and successes and failures. I find it hard to understand that everyone, even my closest friends, has at least one deep, dark secret they would never share with anybody. I find it impossible to believe that every single person I meet, however briefly, has an existence that is equally valid as, yet entirely separate from, my own.

The first time I was really hit by the sheer hugeness of the world we live in was when I went to a concert with Cara last June. There must have been over a thousand people there. Four of those people were me, Cara, her brother and her mom. Four of those people were our friend Lana and her friends from gymnastics. They weren’t sitting near us but we talked to them for about ten minutes before the concert. Two of those people were girls from our school a couple grades above us, who we saw briefly but didn’t acknowledge.

The other nine hundred and ninety people? I don’t know them. And maybe I never will. And even if I do, odds are unless one of us is wearing a tshirt from the concert, neither of us will even know that our paths crossed. And even then, we might not acknowledge it. Very often, I see someone with a Dharma Initiative tshirt or a Deathly Hallows necklace or a Mylo Xyloto backpack. And even though I am super into LOST and Harry Potter and Coldplay (and can safely assume the other person is too) and even though I’ve watched or read or listened to the exact same thing they did, I don’t know this person. I don’t know what the show or book or band means to them. I don’t know anything about them or who they are. So I just quietly let the moment pass and pretend nothing ever happened.

I wonder sometimes if I ever pass a reader of my blog on the street and don’t even know. It’s kind of crazy to think with my meager amount of followers that one of them just so happens to live in the same city as me, but who knows? If they saw me, they wouldn’t know who I was, either. And they would pass by me in silence, never knowing that they knew some of the most important secrets of the unassuming, scrawny little white girl whose face they barely glimpsed.

I find it so weird to think that my friends and I know myself so well, yet the people I interact with on a daily basis–cashiers, teachers, classmates–see only the exterior that I choose to show. To them, I’m just another passing face on the street…which is also exactly what they are to me. My life revolves around my friends and my family and my school, and of course my life is a pretty big deal to me.

But to other people, I’m nothing but a blip on the radar. I am only one face in billions.


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