I’m the type of person who takes a lot of things…quite personally. I’ve gotten a lot better as I get older, but it still takes effort for me to know when to take something to heart, and more importantly, when I shouldn’t.
But I’ve also gone a step further in learning that, when someone says something that’s hurtful or harsh, it says more about them than you. Or if a close friend doesn’t seem to be replying your messages, it doesn’t mean they’re ignoring you or that they’ve moved on from the friendship.
It gave me this reminder that we should never assume someone else’s current situation or state of mind. An extremely happy person might actually be going through a really rough patch that we know nothing about.
Initially, I didn’t understand this because I suppose I’m a pretty transparent person. If I’m having problems at school or work, I’ll most likely tell my close friends about it. At the very least, they’ll be able to tell that something is wrong from how quiet I’m being. I’d just not seem like my usual self.
It didn’t occur to me that some people may not like showing that they’re going through some troubles or that they’re just really good at masking their feelings.
And there’s nothing wrong with this, but it did make me feel like I was the only person who had ‘issues’ and I felt like a downer in conversations sometimes as I’d be the only one sharing.
Strangely enough, it made me feel like there was so much bad in my life, when really my problems weren’t that terrible. Often I was just stressed about getting good grades or worried about work or having a misunderstanding with a friend.
It was only when I learnt that some of my close family and friends were going through more serious problems, like dealing with a loss in the family, financial and health problems, that I realize that I was assuming a lot of things about others. I assumed that their life was going great just because they didn’t share their problems with me at the time.
Accepting others for the way they are
It’s easy to jump into conclusions about someone at face value. After all, we can only refer to someone from what we see and know about them. Consider for a minute that this person may not feel that comfortable sharing their problems with you. Perhaps he or she was being strong in that moment so that they could be there for you. To be present in that moment with you.
I think it’s important to learn to accept people for the way they are and respect what they choose to share with you. Other people don’t have the responsibility to act or speak the way you’d like them to. It’s a heck of a lot easier if we see others for who they are without having the need to change them.
Being there for others even when they weren’t able to be there for you
Many times I felt like I was stuck in the past when my friendships were as close as ever and I’d tell these select few everything that’s going on with me. They’d be the first few people I’d call about my problems. Over the years, I’ve grown either further apart or closer with certain friends. I’ve gotten a lot closer with newer friends as opposed to older ones too.
I admit that it was a confusing time for a while, but thinking about it now it was a very selfish way of looking at it. I decided that I needed to be there even more for the people I care about. I’m still working on doing that.
I was just getting to know a new friend and didn’t really think she thought of me as someone close to her. However, she started getting me gifts during special occasions. I felt really touched by her gesture as it showed me how much she valued me being in her life. Her kind actions made me want to do more for our friendship too. I’d think of her during her birthday and get her a gift or send birthday blooms to her office. She was always delighted to be thought of.
You never lose out from being kind to someone and not expecting anything in return.
I’m still a work in progress in being better in my relationships and with people in general. The truth is, connecting with others fills my heart more than anything, and when that connection fades or when the other person seems to be moving on, it can take a toll on me.
What we need to remember is to never assume what someone else is going through, and that being more accepting of the way they are and how relationships can change over time is a better and healthier way of viewing our relationships.
Show love and kindness to others because you’ll never know if they really need it. You might just be that bright light for them in a time of darkness.