Perhaps you should read THIS first.
People watching has always been a favorite pastime. Perhaps its one of the reasons why I love travel so much. Its amazing what you can quickly get from an interaction with a stranger. You can pick up from the way they position themselves, the things they say, the framing of their sentences, the crooked line in their smile, slight darkness in their eyes that there's more than what you know. Sometimes you don't catch any such glimpse in a stranger at all. The Kroger cashier says, "Hey, how are you?" and you politely respond with some platitude, "fine, thanks, how are you?" and then the same statement is repeated back to you. At this point, generally some comment about one of the products being rolled over the scanner is made, method of payment is discussed, occasionally the weather or another nonsense topic is raised in the interest of making small talk and presuming dead silence as unacceptable awkwardness. These bull shit conversations used to drive me crazy with strangers. But the real truth is, how frequently do we have these same conversations with the people we are supposed to be confiding in, trusting, and sharing the deepest things with?
Rather frequently, wouldn't you agree?
And isn't it a pity. There is a well-circulated pin posted above that says, "be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." I've been chewing on this concept lately. Just starting law school in a state completely across the country, and around the globe from where I spent the last year building connections has attracted new light on the beauty and obstacles presented by young friendships. You avoid religion, politics, ex-boyfriends, hot-topic issues because you don't know their background. You say something that in your frame of reference is totally relevant or appropriate, but in their world, it is interpreted as the exact opposite. Exaggerated words are taken at face value and repeated. Young friendships are built off series of interactions walking a tight rope of "here's a small insight into me" and "i want insight into you" but too often, both slip by.
What is even more frightening is the likelihood that friendships formed on surface nonsense can seem like the real deal and can be rewarding, even lasting for years.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, when you have a friend that is experiencing all kinds of trials, you can be so close to that person, you can empathize with them so deeply that on some level you are experiencing it as well. As referred to in one of the most vulnerable posts on this blog, I have a fundamental issue with life struggles and the lack of ability to guide someone through a same or similar circumstance as one that I myself hobbled along. This week in particular, I was given an opportunity to attempt to be the friend I needed in that time. It was such a strange sensation to sit and think of what I wanted and needed at that time. It's amazing what you let yourself forget. As I tried to reconstruct fragile memories of wondering what the result of one of Mom's surgeries would be, I was reminded of the CDs I played while walking through the hospital hallways, of the smile cemented to my face that I didn't even recognize when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I thought about the constant admonitions of "I'm praying for you" and "God is good and He is going to get you through this" and how my gut reaction to each one made my stomach churn as I grasped onto each word but swallowed it down with doubt and anger.
I've thought so many times that "I want bones like iron, blood like mercury so I can tell you when I'm rising and when I'm sinking in" as so eloquently described by Dispatch. But life isn't like that. You can wear your story on your sleeve, you can sigh heavier throughout your day, your confusion can be visible, or your jaw can be crooked into a smile even you do not recognize yet all go unnoticed. So luckily, you can only worry about being open and honest enough about your own experiences to share them and hope that another will benefit. You can only be concerned with having listening ears and sensitivity to the needs of those around you.
The point I am desperately and poorly trying to make is this: you just never know what battle someone that you are interacting with is facing. At any given moment, that interaction could make a huge difference or none at all.
The emotional energy that you invest in someone else or something else may never be fully appreciated. And that is a shame. But in my experience, as it drains you to fill someone else, in the end, you are filled when they feel restored and you were a contributing factor to that restoration.
I am confident the emptiness that comes from the emotional investment initially, will ALWAYS be rewarded.
So, GO invest in someone.
Invest in everyone.