If I had to name one good quality about myself, I’d have to say that I’m approachable. Little kids walk up and say hi to me. Strangers sit next to me in airports and performances. I kind of like being the one who people feel comfortable with. I take it as a compliment.
Adults and teens tell me their life stories. I guess I’m just a good listener. I get a lot out of it too. I learn a lot about people, and human nature. I hear great stories. And I feel honored when these people share them with me. Some of these stories will fade away with time, and it’s a gift to hear whose dad was in World War II or how someone came to Alaska. Maybe I’m the only one, or the last person, to hear that story, and it lives on because I heard it. And the act of telling and listening brings us closer together. I’ve bonded with people all over the world this way.
It’s possible that I became a writer because I’ve been surrounded by stories all my life, both written and spoken. And I confess that my writer side sometimes listens to someone and says, “That part can go in my next novel.” I don’t steal stories wholesale, but sometimes little details stick in my mind.
There are days I feel less than blessed with this trait. It can be tiresome if I’m in a hurry, or if a person tells me more about their messy divorce than I’d like to know. But most of the time, I’m glad I’m a good listener, that people feel they can approach me. I’ve gotten as much out of it as the people who share things with me. My life is richer because I’m approachable.