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Sonder: We Are More Alike Than We Think

One of my favorite neologisms is sonder: the realization that every person you encounter on a daily basis has their own individual, intricate lives. We often forget how complex the lives are of others, even strangers.

Looking back on a photo I took at a museum a couple of years ago, I would have described this moment as minuscule. I remember taking it in two seconds then moving on with the rest of my day. Now, I see that this moment isn’t just minuscule, it can actually be pretty deep.

There is something intimate about moments taking place in a museum. We all observe art collectively without saying much, when really, our decision to go to a museum on a specific day could say more than we think. These are the kind of moments that slow down the chaos of life and your heartbeat.

I edited the photo I took four times to capture the complexity of life and the experiences of strangers. In the moment, we see people as just microscopic details in our routines, but it is cool, heart-warming, and maybe even sad to think about what they are possibly going through on a specific day.

Original Photo:

Edit #1: The Knot In Your Stomach

Here, I wanted to display the contrast of a hectic mind versus a calm, content headspace. I remember on this day, my mind was actually foggy at some points, but no one would ever guess that. Maybe some people in this photo are struggling and looking for something to take their mind off of it. Some things are often too heavy to forget, and it’s unique but also tragic that your mind can be loud and messy in such a quiet space like a museum.

Edit #2: Delivered

I think one of the most gut-wrenching feelings is going about your day peacefully until you read a text that stops your heart for a second. A text can either fill you with immense joy or leave your mind racing. Why did they send that? Do they still love me? What did i do wrong? I remember waiting on a certain person to text me this day. In reality, I could have been enjoying the moment more.

Edit #3: Same Space, Galaxies Away

We are all going through the universal human experience, but it is easy to feel alone or distanced from other people. We feel drastically different or maybe feel like we live in a separate universe. At our core, we have more similarities than we believe, even if we do not directly know one another.

Edit #4: Befriending Strangers

In the moment, we typically only see strangers as part of a moment in our lives. Taking ourselves out of the main character mindset expands our point of view. Of course, it would be hectic to come to this point of realization every day, since we encounter hundreds of strangers. On the other hand, it is pretty cool to stop and picture how complex everyone is.


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