Not Being SAM

I was listening to a radio interview earlier this week in which the woman being interviewed, "Susie,” was describing a moment from her childhood when she, and a bunch of other girls, attended a slumber party at a friend’s ("Janie's") house.

When bedtime rolled around, Susie was told there was no room for her to sleep in Janie’s bedroom with all the other girls; Susie was told she would have to sleep in another bedroom – with Janie’s mom.

As upset as Susie was, she agreed, and slept in the other bedroom that night -- with Janie’s mom. (Yes, a bit odd.)

When the interviewer asked Susie why she stayed that night instead of calling her mom to pick her up and take her home, Susie said, “I was too embarrassed and ashamed to make a big deal out of it, so I just went along with it.”

It’s an experience that Susie, now 40, has carried with her some 32 years later -- that feeling of being pushed aside, of feeling left out, of somehow being made to feel “less than.”  

As Susie continued to relate her story, she said something that really caught my attention.

“I don’t want to be someone’s awful moment.” And she wondered aloud if it was already much too late, if she was for someone else what Janie was for her.  

One thing’s for sure -– today, Susie’s 100% committed to not being SAM. And, it takes a high degree of consciousness to keep that commitment because we don't often realize the impact we have on other people.  

Of course, I couldn’t help but think about when (not if) in my life, I had been SAM. What might someone else be carrying around all these years later based on something I said or did “x” years ago? It was a troubling thought, for sure.

And then a funny thing happened. Susie ran into Janie about five years ago, and after moving beyond their pleasantries, Susie asked, “Do you remember the night of your sleepover when there was no room for me in your bedroom with everyone else, and you made me sleep in your mom’s bedroom? I’ll never forget that night. It has stayed with me all these years.”

Janie’s response makes the story even funnier. ”We had a sleepover at my house? I don’t remember that at all. Wow. I’m sorry I did that to you. I honestly don’t remember a thing about it.”

And here Susie was, carrying this around like a dead weight for most of her life. Janie was positively clueless about having been Susie’s awful moment.

At the ripe young age of eight, Janie would have no idea the impact she would have on Susie all these years later. How could she, really?

To what degree are you creating awful moments, knowingly or otherwise, with  the people in your life today?  And, to what degree are you creating beautiful moments?

To borrow from our wise old friend Susie, “I don’t want to be someone’s awful moment,” be it at a slumber party, a birthday party, a cocktail party, a retirement party - anywhere, at any time, period.

(Mind you, I don’t do slumber parties these days.)

Want to know the best part about not being SAM? You become the kind of person who creates beautiful moments, those that are truly worth remembering.