We hear a lot, and I say a lot, that we should strive to see different points of views. We should try to walk in someone else’s shoes. But I wonder if you’ve ever tried it? I have. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer. Or maybe it’s because I’m a mentally ill, but I have these elaborate talks with myself in the shower. Sorta like Ted Talks. Missy Shower Talks. I’d invite you all, but well, I’m naked. In my shower. Talking to myself. I can’t expect you to want to attend. The topics are far reaching, while the sanity is completely gone. But sometimes in my Missy Shower Talks, I talk with people who have made me mad. Last week I tried that with this guy I used to know. The one who reached out to me in the middle of his own crisis to tell me I was a judgmental bitch because I don’t think we should “reopen America” quite yet. With him I decided to put myself in his shoes. Just for a minute.
–I’m an immigrant, who has been in the USA for almost 20 years. I am finally at a point where I am a small business owner, and while I did some dumb stuff when I was younger, I am pretty much straightened out now and just trying to live that American dream like everyone else. I live in an area that relies on tourists, year round, and my business relies on them. This is not a good time to be in this business. But I have a family to keep fed, and a business to keep from sinking. I do everything I am supposed to do. I pay my taxes. I pay my employees. I treat everyone fair. (I have no way of knowing he is this good of a guy, but I’m trying to be the best version of him.) When the pandemic hit where I live I did what I could to get help. I submitted a loan to the Small Business Association. I was turned down. I filed for unemployment. I was denied. Now I am stuck. I’m angry and frustrated, and I see my friends on Facebook who still have jobs and who can stay home, and not run around trying to scrounge up work. Okay, shit, I get it. “We should stay home!” But I CAN’T STAY HOME OR I DON’T EAT! Ahhhhhhhh!–
End scene or something. Wow.
I imagine this is incredibly frustrating. I can see why he would want to reach out to people and explain to them. To say, look at me. I’m not doing well. Look at what is happening to some people. He wants to make sure others see and hear his story. I can appreciate that. I want to know what is happening. I want to see what people are going through. I wish I could have helped him in some way, but he wasn’t asking for help, just asking to be seen. And I saw him. More than he knows. So what’s the deal here, Missy? What is the take away?
First, people want to be seen and heard. We need to remember that when we are talking to people. A lot of people only share the good/happy/funny news on social media. And that’s cool and whatever, but they are still there when the bad happens. We tend to forget about them because they are being quiet. No one wants to openly share that they were denied unemployment, or that their small business was not in a place that was making profits, or saving for the future. You have to reach down, dig further, and find out what is really happening. And sometimes you have to do that from trying to see the world from their point of view. Finding the story within the story.
From the outside this guy was rocking it. Taking fun vacations, partying all night, with the nicest, most trendy clothes, cars, and people. So how did it only take a month of his business taking a hit before he was in need of a SBA loan? And why did he think I needed to know about it? As I mentioned, this guy is an immigrant. He is originally from Russia, if memory serves, and he has a lot riding on him. He is someone’s grandson, son, brother, uncle. A whole family is looking at him while he lives the American dream for them. Now his dream is shuttered. Doesn’t matter how or why, it’s shuttered. And he is at a pretty low point and obviously needs a place to vent. Can he call up his family in Russia and tell them? Probably not. Can he turn to those flashy friends and vent, most likely, umm, no. So what does he do? He turns to relative strangers on the internet to be seen. To be heard. To make sure they know there are people like him. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s what he chose to do and it impacted me. And ultimately I unfriended him because I don’t like being unloaded on by relative strangers, but I did try to see life from his POV.
That’s my point. Trying to put on someone else’s shoes for a minute. Maybe we need to work on that. Sure, most people will never be able to understand another person’s life. And that’s okay. But shouldn’t we at least try to walk in someone else’s shoes occasionally? To keep us connected. To keep us open-minded. To keep us grounded and grateful. Maybe. Try it.