I’ve always thought it’s a little silly that people get nervous to meet someone they really admire. I’ve heard from friends about when they’ve met a movie star, rock star, athlete, actor, director or someone they really admire. Sometimes they talk about being tongue-tied or saying something embarrassing when they meet this person. Usually, though, they’re really excited and inspired by the experience, and love to show the photo of them together as they tell the story of meeting them.

I’ve never really related to that feeling until something changed. That change happened recently when I was wondering what it would feel like if I were really excited to meet someone. I tried to imagine the anticipation, and then how the experience would go. But I just couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t think of anyone I was so excited to meet I’d be star-struck in front of them.

As I thought a little harder, I thought about what areas I’m really passionate about in life, and pretty quickly, I imagined being at a humanitarian gathering of some kind. I imagined a bunch of famous humanitarians at a conference, and me getting to attend. As I pictured myself there, I felt a little star-struck. And then it came to me.

A couple years ago, I heard about Malala. I read her book and was blown away by her experience. Her book is called I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. Just the title of her book is riveting to me! The insights she shares about the value of women, of education and about her indomitable spirit are incredible. Her story has deeply inspired my life.

As I thought about her, I suddenly could relate to what friends have shared with me about meeting someone they admire. It all made sense! I could suddenly totally relate to really wanting to meet someone in person. If I could meet anyone famous, I’d love to meet Malala.

There is something extra-ordinary about meeting someone in person. You just can’t get the same experience from seeing their picture, watching a movie about them, reading a book about them, or even talking to them on the phone. It’s that extra “something” – call it charisma, spirit, spark, whatever – there’s just something so awesome about being with people.

As people, we’re meant to connect, we’re meant to inspire each other and help each other face our lives by sharing our stories and life experiences. I think that’s what my friends have been excited about when they meet that person they really admire. They may not say it exactly that way, but they know something about the person, about their life and their values and contribution that has inspired them, and they just want the experience of meeting them in person. I get it now.

I hope I get the chance to meet Malala in person one day. I might be tongue-tied or say something embarrassing. But I think I’ll be really excited to meet her and that I’ll be inspired by our encounter. I so admire what she’s courageously lived through and how she speaks out so freely, even while her life is in danger by what she says; and all at such a young age – what an incredible person she must be!

I’ll make sure to take a picture with Malala and then share my experience with my friends – because I’m convinced that’s why we do it. We take the pictures and tell the stories to share in our experiences as people, to lift each other up and inspire each other. And when it’s someone famous, someone who’s made a big impact on a lot of people, we get to be a part of that bigger-picture goodness. Now I kinda like the idea of being star-struck. I’m keeping my eyes open to meet someone I admire!

Have you ever been star-struck and gotten to meet someone you admire? I’d love to hear about it!