I cry all the time. Every day in fact. I used to hate that part of me. In high school, I got into a long-winded argument with another classmate for mocking my good friend. He had a higher social standing, and I had words jumbled in my head sputtering to get out. But I couldn’t get them out. Instead, I cried. Right there. In the middle of my senior class.
Truthfully, I can’t even remember what he said. What I do remember – blinding fury, shaking hands, racing heart – is all just the feeling stuff.
It took me a long time to accept that crying at another’s pain did not make me weak, but just the opposite. It took me a long time to discover in myself this ability, that I once deemed a curse, to feel everything around me deeply.
Most call it empathy. My best friend calls it spidey senses. I’ve decided to call it being human.
This ability, it’s in all of us. It’s why we mourned together when the towers went down. It’s why just this week we stared in disbelief that one man could be filled with so much hate that it ended 59 lives.
This feeling of being human is cemented in the idea of human connection. We all have our circles, our people. The ones we call and rely on when things are too much. We build these circles, sometimes selfishly, to surround ourselves with those we know will be there when we need it. Human connection, above all, drives our world.
It’s simple, really. I’ve seen it firsthand countless times. I’ve seen it in children more than anyone because they have yet to really close their circles off to the world around them.
At any given moment, the world piles life on us and there’s nothing we can really do to stop it from happening. Remember being thirteen and the world was ending? Remember being eighteen and the world was still ending? At 23, I still get breezes of a world coming to an end and I imagine I’ll feel the same twenty years from now, too. The troubles won’t stop. No positive thinking in the world can keep that from happening.
That’s why I believe in human connection. We don’t need an entire army to get us through. Sometimes, we just need one or two people to show us we’re not alone, that someone has our back.
This is what we need, even when it’s so draining having nothing left for ourselves because we gave so much away already. We need more feeling and more selflessness and most importantly, more understanding. We need an understanding that each of us is doing our best in accepting the lives that we were given because isn’t that what life is?
Accepting the things that have come to define us despite our very best efforts to erase them from our stories. When we acknowledge another’s pain and maybe even take a piece of it as our own, we are creating a world built on the foundation of human connection. And when we are all connected, it takes a whole lot more to try and tear that kind of bond apart.
Let your circle grow. Let yourself be vulnerable to those awfully beautiful feelings we try so hard to ignore. You may be surprised to see there are more people there than you ever thought. You may find it’s more peaceful, maybe just a little easier, to walk side-by-side.