When you are in the thick of your own set of experiences, it would be so easy to assume that others seeing your predicament, can see, feel and think about it, the way you would. And because they can see, feel and think about it, they would therefore, understand.
However, I know that just because others can see and feel what you are going through, does not translate into them fully understanding your predicament.
You see, it’s not always about what’s visible but what is endured. It is the immersive experience that makes the difference.
We see, feel and understand all things through the lens of our own experiences and values. Undoubtedly, there are enough differences, both major and subtle, not just between us and our co-workers, bosses and the man on the street and between members of the same family.
What does this mean?
There will be times when you will go through some pretty challenging times. And the fact that these challenges will be visible to those around you does not mean that others will see these challenges the way you do and the way you experience them.
There may also be times when those around you, at home or at work, suddenly find themselves experiencing a part of what you’ve experienced. You will be engulfed with a sudden rush of excitement at the knowledge that, “now, they will finally understand”. Don’t let the similarity of experience dull you into the belief that they will now see what you’ve gone through.
The experience will be new to them, and they will immerse themselves in it, perhaps going through, reacting and responding in ways similar to you, yet they may not find themselves wondering at the experience you may have undergone before this. They will be wholly absorbed in what they are undergoing and there will be no space for reflection on the wider picture beyond their experience.
Don’t expect that everyone, even in situations or challenges similar to the ones you have faced, will react or respond to it, in a manner similar to yours.
Don’t expect that they will see your point of view.
Don’t think that just because you have lived your experiences and are able to describe it, that others will understand or really hear what you have to say.
It is similar to the experience many parents go through, when having lived a life full of challenges and mistakes, they seek to ensure (and sometimes to a point, force) that their children do not make the same dastardly mistakes they made.
Yet, somewhere deep down, you know the truth. All the wisdom gleaned from the hard experiences and painful lessons you’ve gone through came at a price and it would be too easy, too clinical and too far removed if children could oh-so-easily just absorb the learning without the pain.
There are times that words simply are not enough and deed is what counts.
There are times when learning must come with the pain.