April 29 2017
F.I.N.E. – Frankly I need empathy
I work in a fast-paced customer service environment; I cannot begin to tell you how many times a day I hear, “Hey, how are you?” Truth be told, even without the working environment, hearing that question is a commonality.
It is ingrained in our brain as a social norm. We don’t ask out of a genuine curiosity, in fact I would say more than half the time people have moved on with their dialogue without even hearing your answer. Perhaps harder to stomach than the disingenuous population are the people who ask sincerely.
As a chronically ill person, I know deep down nobody wants to hear how I am.
Nobody wants to hear I am worse, or that I cry alone every night. They don’t want to know that I physically cannot sleep, or that on the nights that I can, I get woken up with an indescribable gutting pain. So I lie. I tell everyone I am okay, or I tell them I am fine. Maybe it’s a perverse way of sparing them, but mostly I do it to spare myself.
The truth is…when I say fine, I really mean Frankly, I need empathy.
Often misunderstood is the difference between empathy and sympathy. I don’t want anyone to pity me, or feel sorry for me, I just want people to try and understand for a moment where I am coming from. I don’t want or need anyone to physically feel my pain, or shoulder my burden, I just want to know that I can be myself without hesitation.
If it were up to me, nobody would have to live this way. There is not a person living or dead that I would wish this disease on.
Life is not always easy, but we can make it better by being good and kind to one another.
All I ask is that next time you ask how someone is, do it with care, or with a sense of empathy or purpose.