During school years, I had a best friend. Even though we didn't go to the same school, we kept in touch very well. We both have very open personalities, which was a big help to bridge our distance. We knew each other very well, to the extent that I could deduce his whereabouts and state of minds, almost at all times.
I guess, it was just the way with me, that I could see the changes in people who are close to me. I am not a psychiatrist. I am certainly not a psychic. I am not even a mentalist, although, I can understand how Patrick Jane (The Mentalist) can figure out people and events by observing and analysing things around him.
Having observed and analysing my best friend daily, turned out sharpening my mind in observing other friends. I could see changes that were happening in each of my close friends, and I had no problem in asking if something was bothering them. Most of the time, they had no problem in telling me what the problem was. At the times when the problem was too personal to share, they would tell me that they appreciated my attention.
One obvious thing was, regardless my good intention, to show attention to my friends, I wasn't always able to give any assistance in helping them solving their problems. I was just a teenager, with experience as little as any other, and no expertise whatsoever in human psychiatry. The biggest help I could offer was to listen. Once in a while, I could give a suggestion, but most of the time, it was only listening.
Well, considering, we were all teenagers at that time, having someone, a friend, to listen to us, was more than enough. All teenagers only wanted to be listened to. What happened afterwards, didn't matter as much, as long as, they felt that they were being understood. Therefore, I helped my friends as often as I could.
I remember. A friend asked me, how I could tell that she was feeling sad. I told her that it showed in her eyes. From that moment on, she occasionally came to me and said, "Look into my eyes. What do you think, I'm feeling today?"
Well, it wasn't that hard to do, since she was a good friend, and I saw her everyday at school. Furthermore, this particular friend has expressive eyes. So, I was always successful in getting her to tell me whatever was bothering her.
It wasn't as easy with other friends, but when we see certain people daily and, we interact with them on a regular basis, we will recognise the mood changes, worries, happiness, excitements, etc. Mood changes in friends always give me a little tug, like having butterflies bumping around, in my tummy. When it happens, it is the time, when I usually ask my friend, if something is bothering them, and give them time to decide whether they want to tell me about it.
Well, that was all easy in school years.. What happened afterwards was quite different. Situations change, condition change, and people change.. and that was when I lost most of my comfort..
Throughout high school and university, many things happen in people's lives, and mine is no exception. My best friend and I arrived at a point where we needed to restrict our feelings and only mind each other business on 'when invited/asked' basis. The decision didn't come out of a fight. It came out of the situation when we found the love of our lives.
As we drifted apart, somehow, I also lost a great deal of my confidence in approaching other people. I fear that if people don't like being asked about their problem, they would be angry. If I was the person who has nerves asking about other people's problems, I have to be prepared to suffer the consequences. I don't really think that the change in my friendship completely did this. I believed that simply growing up and becoming an adult also took part in the way I make considerations about other people. As adults, we simply can't interfere with other people's lives, even our close friends, even when we sense something is not right.
I'm still not sure that being adults mean being ignorant, but I'm not a teenager anymore, and what would I do, if I ask a friend if he/she is having a problem, and he/she tells me about it, and it turns out that I can't do anything other than listening? At the same time, I have some concerns about some of my friends, which I would like to ask them personally (I am the kind of person who dislikes finding out about a friend, from another friend).
I also have another worry, now that I am a wife and a mother of three young kids. If it turns out that my friend needs to be listened to for hours, days, weeks, months or even years, how should I deal with that? I care about my friends, but I am aware of my limitations, and I worry about the consequences of my actions.
It feels so hard, to find the right time and the right way to ask a friend, "What is really going on? I don't know how much I can help, but I will listen." Is it because being adult is really that complicated?
I really miss my school years.. being a teenager, who had nothing to fear in showing attention, and all the time in the world to care about my friends..
To all of my dear friends.. if you happen to read this, please know that even though I might need to cut your phone calls short to attend to my kids, I really want to understand how you are feeling. I want to listen and be there for you. I want to see you go through your problems and come out as a better person..
What you haven't been able to do today,
I hope you can do it tomorrow.
The tasks you haven't completed this week,
I hope you can complete it next week.
The goals you haven't achieved this month,
I hope you can achieve it next month.
The successes you haven't reached this year,
I hope you can reach it next year.
Yes, being a teenager can be troublesome, with the mind-splitting and emotionally-challenging self-discovery. However, most of you would agree with me, that the good friends we find during our teenage years, are the ones we keep forever.
If I have a choice, I want to keep being able to ask them how the are right now, and listen to how great they are doing these days, or, listen to them crying their heart out about something that bothers them today..
I wish you all a nice day and a good life.. :-)