She slowly untied the bow, all the while wondering what could be inside, and who could have left her this gift. She tore at the wrapping and opened the box to find layers of white tissue paper. She parted the sheets of tissue to find a smooth stone. The stone was flat and round and coolly fit in the palm of her hand.
She discovered letters carved on one side of the stone. The message read, “That is about you.”
“That is about you.”
She said it over and over again in her mind.
“What is about me?” she said out loud to no one.
She put the stone inside the box and briefly wondered if the giver had delivered to the wrong address. She set the box on the purple table and went about her busyness.
After a bit, she walked by the table and picked up the stone.
She read the words again, “That is about you.”
She repeated the words to herself.
Just then her cell rang. She found herself on the receiving end of a disjointed conversation that required very little of her except to listen. The caller rambled and vented and complained and spewed. When the call came to an end, she put the cell down next to the stone.
Without making a connection, she said the words from the stone, “That is about you.”
She finished folding laundry and checked her inbox. There she found an email with questions she didn’t feel like answering. The email tried to trigger a mood she didn’t want to have. She glanced at the stone and then turned to look at the sender name of the email and she thought, “That is about you.”
She set the stone up on a shelf and still she wondered who the message was meant for.
Later, at one of those obligatory holiday parties, when being introduced to a new face that lacked warmth and gave her the once-over, a thought quickly came to her mind – “That is about you.” Those words calmed her. They allowed her to dodge the inevitable feelings of insecurity that came when she felt she was being judged.
She got herself a glass of wine and met more new folks. She felt more composed. She made a game of the introductions. She’d look a new person in the eye. She’d shake a hand if it was offered, and if it wasn’t, she’d think to herself, “That is about you.”
She felt her confidence build – not from the wine, but from the words she’d found on the stone.
When she returned home from the party, she kicked off her shoes, put some water on to boil, and walked over to the shelf to find the stone. She thought about the words. She thought about how those four simple words had the power to change an interaction. She thought about how those words liberated her from taking exchanges personally – from believing words were meant to bruise her or marginalize her or diminish her.
Hurtful words weren’t about her, they were about the person who’d said them.
It was at that moment that she realized the gift was truly meant for her.