Recently, I’ve had a couple of people tell me that they find it easy to open up to me and tell me stuff that they rather would not have. It got me thinking about what parts of me make it that way, seeing as I am not the most approachable person around (I’ve once been told that I look like a serial killer). I’d be trying to go through some parts of my life that likely influenced that side of me.
Visitations (2nd year)
Sometime in my 2nd year, I became interested in going on visitations for my then fellowship. I’m not sure what sparked that interest but I found it fulfilling and it gave me the opportunity to meet new people. One common concern I’d heard from the people I visited was how the fellowship only cared if they attended meetings and not about their general well being. My recollection of this might be off though.
Anyways, I sought to change that, so most of my visits revolved around trying to be invested in the lives of the people I visited. I’d try to find out what courses they were doing, which they had the most difficulty in, what their timetables looked like and how their exams were structured. I didn’t really need to be in the same departments to empathize with them. We all had similar struggles. We also talked about their lives outside of school and I got to learn more about them as individuals.
I gradually got better at doing this and visitations became a large part of what I did for the fellowship. I wasn’t that concerned with how it affected our attendance numbers. I just enjoyed doing it.
Not Judging People
I think this became easier for me to do after leaving religion. I became more accepting of people and the things they carried with them. I found that I could listen to people’s stories without pushing them away. I started learning how to empathize with them. I became more accessible to people and they became more open to sharing things with me that they would not have been able to do with other people.
I am used to being a sounding board for my friends whenever they need to vent about anything that they’re going through. I started doing this more, with a particular friend of mine, around 2017, and I’ve been on it ever since. I pay attention to what they tell me when they’re venting, and then try to come up with solutions for them if I can or comfort and encourage them when that’s out of the picture.
I’d start with my quiet and reserved nature. It might be me just speculating but I think that coming off as being pretty reserved also projects some form of reliability unto other people and makes them believe that I am someone that they can trust and rely on. Again, just speculating.
I also try to care about different things that people tell me and follow up on them to the best of my abilities. If you’ve told me something in confidence, then I believe I should go further than listening and do as much as I can about it. Sometimes, listening may be all that I can do, but other times, I’d try what I can. It could be something as little as checking to see that a new moisturizer you got works as it should or that an assessment you had at work recently went as planned.
I have to ensure that I’m not sharing what others have told me in private with other people. This includes my best friend, who knows a ton about my life. There’s this thing were people tell you that you’re meant to share everything with your partner. I don’t buy that in any way. People’s secrets are their secrets, except if they would impact your relationship. Outside that, I believe it’s bad to share things like that with anyone, regardless of how close they are to you.
I also worry about misusing whatever they’ve told me later in future. It might be an irrational fear but I still feel it’s a valid one. It’s not something I’d never see myself doing, but the possibility of taking advantage of something someone told me when they were vulnerable scares me to shit and I think about it regularly.
I’m still trying to improve as much as I can with regards to being someone that people can trust. I think it’s nice that some people already find me so, but I sometimes think that I am not able to do a lot for them like I’d want to. I’d like to change that but I understand that everyone has limits, so I’d continue to do my best. Hopefully, I help make life a little better for the people around me.