Briefly at one point I touched on how I find the difference between being met with sympathy and empathy so fascinating.
And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately – the difference between how I feel after talking with certain people, the questions I have about why, the people I gravitate towards in the middle of different situations.
What I find extra interesting is that there isn’t necessarily a rhyme or reason to who these people are. We might have best friends who sympathetically hear your story but they’re not the ones you will turn to in times of crisis. Because they’re the ones who sit in front of you, and nod as you’re talking, and say “I’m always here for you!” and it’s very sweet but in your gut you know it’s more of a script they’re following and less of a from-my-soul-I-mean-this. They’re the ones who you leave often feeling just as anxious, unresolved, and maybe fearful about how you were perceived.
What we really need in our lives are these friends, the ones who meet us with empathy. Compassion. Love. Who don’t just hear us but listen. Who sit with you and nod along with you. These are the ones who look deep into your eyes and say, “Call me. Anytime. I am here.” And your core just knows – yes. They mean this. I could, and I might, take them up on this. And you feel loved, and heard, and wrapped in a blanket of compassion. And your fears about judgment and blame and disgust and shame go out the window because in those moments, in those conversations, there was no space for them to exist.
And different people serve different purposes in our lives and I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with that. But I encourage you – find one or two people, who in your gut, you just know – they will hear me. They will listen. They will love me through it. They will say they’ll be there and they will show up and they will mean it.
These are the people who will make you lighter. Stronger. Who will hold things for you when you can’t carry them. Who want to hold those things for you. Who will love you through it – any of it.
These are the people.
Who lift us up, propel us forward, carry our stuff.
These are the people we need.