Ha, ha ha, ha, ha, at the title.
I don’t believe in giving advice. I believe in anecdotes, though, to tell you a story about what happened to me when I was in a similar situation. Some might link that to advice, but to me I’m just sharing a story. It’s up to you how you want to take it.
But if there’s any “advice” I would give to “young” people, I do have one. It’s more of an encouragement than it is an advice, actually. And I shall begin with a story.
When I was 17, done with my secondary school, completely on my own, I was sent to a hill in California to learn about spirituality. I do know that I come from a line of mystics and spiritual people, but you know these kinds of things aren’t inherited by blood. Spiritual conscience is something you have to wake yourself up to do. I can’t rely on my dead ancestors to help me.
In California, while my friends back home continued with their tertiary education making new friends of our age,…my classmates were middle-aged people. Both my roommates were above 45 years of age. All of my classmates were more than twice my age. The first person I hung out (not my classmate) with was a middle-aged beautiful internal medicine doctor named Dr Soheila. We went shopping at St Helena and the “advice” she gave me was “You don’t need a man, Fifi.”
I guess I listened to her.
Anyway, after that, when I hung out with people my age, I felt out of place. I saw the difference in the levels of thinking between my spiritual school classmates and fresh blooded friends, obviously. Then I hung out with common, working adults who think that the goal in life is to make money, money, live comfortably and then die happy. I felt out of place with them too. Why aren’t they thinking of joy and peace? Why did they only think of themselves! I remember feeling so distant from to whom I thought I belonged with. They were in America. I was in Asia. So far away.
It’s not good, you know. This kind of mindset, that I only wanted to befriend people who were like me, who understood me. Why did I need people to understand me, anyway?
Then I began talking to everybody I meet.
I know I’m saying these as if the process only took a few weeks or months, but in actuality this took me a couple of years to realise and understand.
That the problem is not them, but me.
And I have to be the change I want to see in the world.
So when I began talking to everybody, my worldview and understanding became wider. My innate empathy was allowed to blossom when I changed my mindset about other people. I was able to walk in their shoes through listening with an open mind, and talking to them through their eyes. Literally everybody. Be it the cleaner at the mall or the baby in the stroller or a lady struggling with her grocery, I talked to them and offered a piece of me. Me that has the capacity and capability to love everyone I meet. I planted my love in them therefore they know that there is someone who sees the worth in them. That person is me. And that, I developed through talking to people from all walks of life. I began to love everybody.
If there’s anything I encourage “young people” to do it’s not to travel as much as you can, but talk to as many people as you can no matter how different he or she is from you. Because some people don’t have the financial access, and some with health issues can’t travel much. I understand that therefore I don’t want to give such suggestion.
When you talk to them, drop all pre-judgement and prejudice. Drop all existing thoughts about what people might do to you. You just want to listen to them and their stories.
As someone who travels on her own, I feel travel is only exciting when you’re on your own. But it’s not something I would recommend because it’s dangerous. And not everybody can travel…but you can always turn around and find a person different from you. Start from there. Step into his life through his eyes and stories. Never mind if it sounds like bullshit, then it means you’re stepping into a part of his dreams and desires. Keep an open mind. If you find yourself with quick judgement, immediately tell yourself “I don’t know what it’s like being him.”
You’re not better than him. I am not better than you.
Our circumstances make us seem different but in actuality, it’s just how much you allow yourself to see.
I know people who like to talk big about themselves. As a normal human being I would think that that person is just being arrogant and is full of himself. But if you look through his eyes, you’d probably see an insecure person who wants to feel recognised. When I let him know that I recognise him in spite of his shortcomings, he will feel valued. When a person feels valued, he will no longer feel the need to try to be someone he’s not. That’s how we start. You and me. We can move towards a more compassionate world.
Listen with an open mind.
(I wrote about this in my book, A Nobody’s Observations, actually. But it’s out of stock for now, and thank you for that!)
(and I didn’t edit this post sorry about that)