Transformation: The Short Story


This is a story about transformation. About changing your experience of the world. It can happen in a flash: all you need to do is change the lens you are looking through.

Let’s call her Shanice. She wanted to be a motivational speaker—but, to her distress, she was a wallflower; quiet, passive, and painfully shy. You can imagine a motivational speaker wouldn’t have much street cred if she couldn’t bust out of her own cocoon.

We were only a few sessions in when I asked her:

“A person is walking towards you, what do you do?”

“If they smile, I smile. If they don’t, I don’t.”

“Kind of dangerous to smile first?”

“Yeah, if they didn’t smile back, I’d feel hurt.”

“What would it mean about you, if they didn’t smile back?”

“That they didn’t like me.”

“Didn’t like you?”

Shanice thinks for a bit. “I don’t think I’m likeable.”

“When the other person smiles first, are they risking anything?”

“I might not smile.”

“How does it feel, when they smile.”

“Great. I love it.”

“Ah…” The line goes quiet. After a while I say, “You still there?”

“Shhh,” she says, “I’m having an aha moment.”

When she comes back, she says, “I don’t need to make it about me and my fears. It’s really a gift, isn’t it? To smile first.”

“So…you’re telling me you can see the world through the lens of “I’m not likeable” or the lens of “I’m a gift?”

Next week, as soon as I pick up the phone, an unexpected exuberance barrels out of it.

“I can’t stop smiling,” she says. “At everyone.”

Which, in New York City, might be considered somewhat odd, if not unhinged, but really, who are you living for?