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Monday, October 14, 2019

why you should be gentle with people

Every morning I wake up and the first thing I do is take my mini goldendoodle outside. I’m out there pretty early so I don’t usually see too many people. However, every so often I stumble upon men (sometimes women) sleeping on the ground—in alleyways, underneath stairs, trees, covered doorways… or mornings like today when I saw what I thought was a pile of garbage, but was actually somebody’s “blanket.” I only realized there was a person under there because I saw their feet hanging out. 

I do my best to not wake them up and hold my dog back from wanting to go over and sniff. As I walk away, I always get this weird, heavy, sad feeling. Here I am walking my dog down the street with my UGGs and matching sweatsuit outfit, only to go back to my cozy apartment where I have a king size bed, a full fridge, and an overflowing closet of too many clothes that I hardly get the chance to wear. Life has a funny way of humbling you when you need it most.

People tend to throw homeless people into categories, such as “drug addicts, failures, deadbeats.” We see these people out on the street in their dirty clothes asking for money and automatically assume that they’re some kind of lazy, no good loser. Our initial reaction is never, “How did they end up here?”

That got me thinking that we as a society tend to do this in general. 
We see what’s on the “surface level” of someone’s life and make assumptions without really knowing anything about them.

2019 has been a challenging year in my little world. However, I go about my days and deal with it, like most do. 

It makes me think—how many people go out into the world everyday and put on a brave face? How many people are out there walking around with a broken heart—dealing with loss, sadness, anxiety, depression, rejection, heartbreak—and nobody knows. How many people are out there feeling alone, feeling abandoned, feeling worthless, feeling like they have no friends, feeling like they have no where to go—and nobody knows. 

In the past six months, in my small little community alone, I know someone who lost a sibling to cancer, I know someone who got out of a broken relationship, I know someone who had a miscarriage, I know someone who became a single mom, I know someone who unexpectedly lost their dad, and another who unexpectedly lost their mom. I know a family who lost their father to a heart attack, I know someone who goes home to an alcoholic spouse every night, I know someone who’s in an unhappy relationship but too afraid to leave, and I recently met someone my age who’s estranged from their parents… all of that in the past six months, in a small, 25 mile radius. 

We interact with so many people like this in our day to day lives and most of us have no idea. We see them as coworkers, strangers, classmates, teachers, friends, workers, etc. 

I often think back on a time in my life a few years ago when I was in such a dark place. Ironically, it was also the same time someone complimented me on “always being such a happy person.” I remember thinking to myself, “If they only knew.”

No matter how someone appears on the surface, everyone is dealing with something.

It’s important to remember that:
You don’t know what people are going through.
You don’t know what other people have been through. 
You don’t know what burdens people in their daily lives.
You don’t know what happened to someone in their childhood. 
You don’t know what’s happened to someone in their adult life.
You don’t know what people have to go home to at the end of the day. 

Life is hard as it is. We all come with some sort of baggage, some worse than others. This is all the more reason to be kind, to be compassionate, to be patient, and most importantly, to be gentle with people.

XX, Laura 

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