Apathy Was Killing Me
It’s hard to keep 🙂 in touch with people. It’s even harder when living abroad. It’s extra hard when you live abroad and the person you’re trying to keep in touch with is struggling in some way. Sometimes it just seems easier to stop battling the time zones and messaging apps and just lose touch. Sometimes it seems more appealing to simply not care.Going into my 6th year of life as an expat, I have explored this question in many ways. And although I have indeed “quit” on people before (something I’m certainly not proud of), I’ve discovered that giving my friends and family back home unrelenting support, kindness and love, especially the ones who are struggling, leaves us both feeling optimally satisfied. And each time I keep in touch with someone back home, I perfect my skills a little bit more. I’m a perpetual work in progress. But I am working, and I am progressing. When I tried apathy, I found, apathy was killing me.
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Why This Question? Why Now?
Living abroad, in our digital era, I have found that it is easy to create a facade of caring by using social media and electronic communication, but in doing so I have also, at times, forgotten about the richness of real-time interactions or better yet face-to-face ones. I’m asking the question of ‘Is apathy killing you?’ and I’m asking it now because frankly, is it ever the wrong time to ask such a question?
It’s Hard to Care – But It’s Harder To Not
And yes, it’s hard to care. Especially when you may not see someone but once a year, or maybe even less. In fact, it’s exhausting to care, but it’s also rejuvenating. Getting up at a crazy hour to talk to someone on the phone, or committing a Saturday night at home to FaceTime can seem like a sacrifice, but it’s always well worth it. Caring about those around me has made my experience on this earth a much more enjoyable one.
Care in the Here and Now
I’m not just talking about caring about people back home, I’m also talking about exuding care in my daily life. Indeed, there have been times when I’d just put in my headphones and ignore the person on the train who needed my seat more than I did. And yes, there were times when I used to think it was easier to walk a little bit faster to get into the grocery store line before the other person (who was clearly there before me) instead of creating an atmosphere of fairness by letting them rightfully get into the line ahead of me. And yes, there have been times when I used to think it was easier to not interact with people who are at a negative/trying places in their lives. But again, I found apathy was killing me.
Satisfying Like McDonald’s
Now, apathy wasn’t immediately deadly, but what I discovered is that apathy was deceptively satisfying, yet deadly. It was satisfying in the way that McDonald’s is satisfying: It’s delicious in the short term, but it’s cancerous in the long term. I found not caring to be an emotional carcinogen. Losing touch with people was eroding my health, and leaving me mentally and emotionally malnourished. Not showing care towards the pushy people on the train, or the petty people running to get into the ATM line before me was corrosive to my happiness. I was trading my long term well being for short term convenience – I was living the McDonald’s Life.
So What’s The Point?
For a time, it seemed easier to go through life caring only about the people I held in my innermost circle. Living abroad, this often meant only the people I’d met abroad. But what I have found (and I’m certainly still a work in progress on this front too) is that the more I can expand my circle, the more people I can care about, the more people I can hold in my heart, the easier and more enjoyable life becomes, as the amount of support, kindness and love that comes back to me is in proportion to how much I’ve expanded my own circle.
Create Unrelenting Kindness
So now, when I’m on the train, I keep an eye out for someone who might need my seat. My feet always feel more tired from giving up my seat, but my soul always feels rejuvenated. And now, when I call or text someone who is five time zones away and they don’t get back to me, I don’t get annoyed, or assume they are ignoring me. I simply send a kind follow-up text telling them I’ll be available to talk when they’re feeling like it. And to the best of my ability, when someone wrongs me, whether they live very far away from me, or whether they are dragging their rolling suite case over my foot right here and now, I try to counter them with an act of kindness. I try to see people’s rudeness or lack of kindness as a reflection of how they’ve been treated in life, and not a personal shortcoming.I try my best to be the change that I wish to see in the world. I try my best to smother those around me in kindness, and I know, even if I don’t hear it from them explicitly, they appreciate it immensely. I know they do especially, if they live very far away.
I believe life is too short to waste any time on anger. I believe life is too short to fight negativity with anything other than kindness. And deep down, I believe every person has a massive wellspring of good within them. Whether I’m at home or abroad. On holiday or going through my day-to-day, I believe it is my mission to find that good in everyone. I believe it is my mission to help others let their goodness shine for the world to see. In doing so, I know I am being the best person I know how to be. I believe it is all of our duty to be the best people we can. Short of this, I believe we are each cheating ourselves out of experiencing the best that life has to offer.
How About You?
What do you think about all of this? How have you found your optimal level of caring? Are you still trying to find it now? Do you know someone who is challenging to care about?Leave a piece of your truth in the comments section below 🙂 !(And if you’re looking for some more of this philosophical stuff, check out Stop Pretending: Travel Will Not Fix All Your Problems.)+++BEFORE using this information, please read our Legal Disclaimer.+++