Nov 5, 2009

Appreciating what others care about

There's a girl in one of my history class. She's the girl that everyone cringes and sinks down in their seats when she raises her hand to offer up a comment. She's the girl who gets so hyped up over the subject matter that her voice gets louder and louder and louder as she makes her comment, until finally, she's literally yelling at the class and her face is bright red with excitement.

Usually the teacher cuts her off and we all smile politely as she sits down. Then we'll role our eyes at each other when she isn't looking. Not a very attractive habit, I know. The other day she said "I'm sorry, I just get so excited. History is just so cool!" And I thought, "You know what, she's right."

I love history and something about it ignites a little fire inside me. I get excited and hyped up about the subject matter too, but I don't wave my arms around and make rousing speeches in class about it.

But it made me realize how many times I look at people around me and think how sad it is that so many people don't seem to be passionate about anything. They just go about their day to day life, doing what their supposed to do to survive and don't seem to have a single fire-y interest. Not one. Not even crocheting, or stamp collecting or basket weaving or anything! Sure, everyone likes things, but not everyone has something in their life that makes them feel excited or empowered or fulfilled or energized.

I thought how this girl probably thinks the rest of us in the class are just dead weight with no passion for our majors and nothing to contribute to the discussion. It's not true, of course, but I understand completely now, how disheartening it is to care about something while the person next to you kind of cares, but not enough to do anything about it.

It is upsetting to feel that something is important and meaningful and maybe even vital to you and have the people around you only care half-heartedly. It makes you wonder why you should even care. Maybe it's not that important. Maybe it's not something worth fighting for. Maybe it's not that vital to your happiness. Maybe it's not something worth making such a big deal over.

I don't like the feeling of giving up on something that is important to you or feeling discouraged about it, just because the next person doesn't give a damn and maybe even thinks you're foolish for caring yourself. I don't want to be the person that distinguishes another person flame or happiness or excitement by not appreciating where they're coming from.

This girl will never hear another sigh from me or see another eye roll when she gets up to speak. From now on, I'm not going to tune her out. I'm going to listen and maybe even think of something to contribute to her discussion.

But, this is so much more than just one girl in my history class. I know how sucky it is to care about something when someone else doesn't. Mostly this happens with what we would call 'the little things.' But sometimes it's the little things that matter most. Sometimes, ignoring those little things can really hurt another person. I've been on both ends and it's not a nice place to be.

So from now on, whenever I can see that someone I love is passionate about something or feels strongly about something, no matter how little or unimportant I think it is, I'm going to see that 'something' through their eyes, try to understand why it's important to them, and see how I can make it important to me too.


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