I used to be obsessed with TedTalks. Every morning for about three months, I would watch two or three videos during breakfast to get myself motivated for the day. After a while, they all started to blend together and seem the same, but there were a few that truly stood out. One of the ones I'll never forget was all about the importance of community and the power of asking for assistance when in need. I couldn't help but think of Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when he says, "Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it." As a kid, I thought this magical notion was only true in fiction, but turns out asking for help in real life opens new exciting doors as well. Every person comes with their own set of skills, social circles, and knowledge, and when we reach out and connect with each other, we build upon life's possibilities.
Lately, I've been reaching out and connecting a lot. For the past six years, I lived in Newport, Rhode Island where I ran my own pet-sitting and dog-walking business, and now I'm back in Connecticut, trying to build another pet-sitting business from the ground up. Starting fresh is scary, but it also can be exciting. Every day, I device a new plan to spread the word, and every day that plan slightly changes because unexpected opportunities pop up and unexpected connections with people emerge.
For example, today I stopped at a local Dairy Queen to ask the manager if I could post my flyer in his store, and he said yes, but also offered to let me use his reader board to advertise my business in the winter. I was thrilled. I asked a simple question and he answered with an above and beyond offer. Yesterday, I had several other similar experiences. I met a woman with her own pet business who could have easily shrugged me off as competition, but instead she connected me with another pet-sitter who is selling her business. I also met a dog-walker up in Killingworth who almost immediately referred me a client. People want to help. From my networking experience both in Newport and Connecticut, if you set out with a positive attitude and clear needs in mind, the right opportunities tend to pop up. I don't believe the world is as cruel and cold as some people think. I believe many people have simply allowed themselves to slip out of social circles and their local community.
Love over fear--I preach these words often. Love your neighbor, love your postman, love your grocery store baggers, delivery truck drivers, landscapers, dentists, office workers, and dog walkers the same. Without each other, we cannot thrive. When we isolate, fear one another, and believe so stubbornly in hard independence, we grow cold as a community. We lost sight of what makes life worth living: human connection. I love pet-sitting and dog-walking because I love animals of course, but I also love this job because it takes me outside every day into my local community where I can make those face-to-face connections and discover others' strengths, beliefs, and possibilities.
Don't believe the fear. Don't believe the nonsense divisions and judgments about social classes. If you're ever feeling lonely, confused, in need, or trapped inside your four walls, try stepping outside and entering a conversation with someone new. Talk to your neighbor. Talk to that guy you always see on the corner but never acknowledge. Don't be afraid to say hello. Don't be afraid to ask for help. We don't live in Hogwarts, but I do believe we live in a nicer world than most people think.