I knew everyone at BC. My mother, from a young age, instilled in me to be kind to everyone you meet because it's the right thing to do and you never know if you might need one another's help one day. Not knowing it, that’s exactly what I did in college. I knew everyone from my academic professors, to Jimmy who was the janitor in the athletic building, to Oscar who made my eggs everyday in the cafeteria.
My teammates always asked me how I knew so many people and I’d always give them the same answer, I just say, Hi.
I said hi to everyone I saw and I made a lot of friends that way. I mean, that's how I met my best friend Ashlynn. We saw each other almost everyday in Conte or in between classes. Why not say hi and make a friend!
I would later end up traveling to Ireland for a summer, to study abroad, and Jimmy who was from Ireland, told me all the cool places to go. He loved talking about his home town and I was happy to listen to his stories. Oscar would tell me about his daughters at least once a week and tell me about how proud he was of them for all of their accomplishments. So when it came to a time when I needed a small favor they would gladly do it. Justin still gets mad that Oscar let me skip the egg line everyday, but hey, I can’t help who my friends are and that they want to help out from time to time. 🤷🏽♀️
But moral of the story is, while I grew up with the principle of always being nice to those you meet, I think in college it took another twist for me. For me, it wasn’t about getting to know the people in my everyday life because I might need something. It was about letting people know that I 'saw' them, that I truly saw them, and that I did truly care. In college I wanted SO badly for someone to look me in my eye and ask me how I was doing, and truly mean it. I needed someone, just someone, to ask me for once how I was doing. I thought, just maybe if someone asked me, and made me tell them the truth, that I’d tell them and I could finally feel free from this lie I was living. But I never got that. So I made it a point to make sure that anyone I spoke to or interacted with knew that I truly genuinely cared about how they were doing.
I was there to listen about their day, or about their daughters, or anything else no matter how long it took. I was going to be there and listen no matter what. Just in case someone needed from me what I wanted from everyone else.
I don’t think we take enough time to listen, to truly listen to someone when they say things like, "I’m alright." If you know me, I make it a point to ask follow up questions; "Just alright? What’s going on?" I wish that people would do this more so people like me know that they are truly cared for and that they want to listen. I tried! I tried to talk to a friend, and I told them everything. And I got nothing in return. Sadly for me, it would then take me another year until I openly talked about my mental health struggles with a friend. It’s not enough to just say that you're there to talk if someone needs an ear, if you don’t actually mean what you say. Don't be the person that doesn't listen and makes your friend loose courage to speak up.
So I am asking, no I am begging you, when you ask someone how they are, mean it!