I have recently become more and more aware of the fact that very few people actually, genuinely, CARE about others. I know I myself am guilty of self-absorption and introspection to a shocking degree.
I recently dropped out of social media almost entirely for over a month. I did not Tweet or Facebook or interact with anyone, really, and none of my online friends even seemed to notice. Nobody messaged me or tried to contact me or even asked “Are you ok?” I was even introduced at a subsequent social event as someone who “met a guy and basically stopped talking to us”.
While I was somewhat absorbed by the wonderful new man in my life, that was not what happened at all. I hit a wall. I had trouble reaching deadlines at my day job and seemed to be constantly behind or trying to play catch up. My supplementary income more or less shriveled and died due to a financial crisis experienced by my main source of freelance work, who also happens to be my sister and housemate. We as a family went through an incredibly stressful and difficult time with basically my extremely meager 4-figure salary as the only reliable source of income for a family of five. All of my strength and will was taken up by surviving each day and hoping like hell that there would be a meal for the next.
And nobody knew. Because nobody asked, and I had too much pride to say: “I’m going through crap – is there anyone there?”
What I learned (and what I hope to be able to apply in the future) is that we can’t actually assume that we know why people act the way that they do. We can’t assume that someone is ok – we should try to reach out and ask. I am very bad at this thanks to my introvert nature, but I need to make the effort. I’ve known for ages that I have trouble making and keeping friends because of trust issues, and this period helped me to clarify who I can classify as a friend, and who I want to invest time in and with. I will cultivate the friendships where I can both be supporter and supported. I no longer want to be the one who is constantly reaching out and trying to make contact, with little or no reciprocal effort. There are those who drain us, and those who build us up. And while we do need to sometimes be the ones doing the building for those who drain us, we also need to find those who can hold us up when we need it, and who will just take the time to ask: “Are you ok?”