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The working day was over, I stood there, slightly frazzled, surrounded by a cloud of black business suits, waiting for a train to take me to my next commitment. I boarded the train and sat in the vestibule. A man with wispy hair and dirty tracksuit was sitting next to me. He had the familiar dull, ruddy complexion of a long term alcoholic, he was rambling at the passengers in front of me. They were all staring at their phones in an attempt to ignore his existence.

He started talking at me, I could see him through my peripheral vision however I couldn’t hear him, I stared straight into the abyss trying hard to ignore him. Into the ride he taps me on the shoulder and reluctantly I look at him.

“Look! The same!” he said pointing at my shoes and another fellow commuter’s shoes. He was staring at me, laughing, expecting some sort of response. I said “ha, coincidence.”

Then he looked at a girl whose body language was oozing sorrow. “Chin up!” he said, pointing at her, I had to giggle a little at that. He continues to tell me that I must stay positive, at all odds!

I was diagnosed with depression in 2010, I spend my life fighting to keep a grip on that positive, glass half full state of mind. I know how important that is but also how easy it is to slip back into the depths of the dark fog of depression.
I replied, “yes, you make a good point however sometimes that is easier said than done.”

He agreed, “that’s right, but when people throw hurdles in front of you you just have to jump over them. What ever you do never look back.” I could have spoken to him more on this topic but when the next stop came I consciously pulled away from him hoping someone would sit between us, no one did.

He didn’t say much after that, when he got off he tapped me on the leg and said, “stay positive girl.” Then under his breath he said, “because I never got where I wanted to.” His speech trailed off to a murmur.

In shock I sat staring at the place where he left the train, my heart broke in that moment. One of my greatest fears is that I will grow old and disappointed in my life. I have big dreams and big hopes and sometimes I fear that I will not fulfil these dreams. I don’t want to let myself down, give in to the mundane and drink the nights away to ease the pain of a miserable life.

I wish I had spoken to him more, found out his story, maybe put some light into his life even if it was for that one day. I felt selfish for trying hard to ignore him and living behind iPod walls of music and glassy eyes. His message has stuck with me and I felt the need to share this with you. It is important to stay positive and I feel the best way to do this is to do more of what makes you happy and work towards goals for the future that inspire and motivate you. We must get to the core of what we really want and work towards that.

Have you ever taken a lesson from a stranger on public transport?

If you are feeling down or anxious there is a lot of help out there for you. You can always start here: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/ or call 1300 22 4636.