The Highs and Lows: A Quasi-Literate Interpretation of Empathy

Living life is a fucking roller coaster. Even the simple act of existing takes you all over the place on a daily basis. You have moments where you feel like everything is in place and there’s nothing that could possibly get better, and moments where where you feel like there’s nothing lower. These moments last literal moments, hours, days, months... You get the picture.

These "moments" are always very personal and each and every person responds to them differently, for any number of reasons. The roller coaster of your life is a ride that you ride by yourself... But that doesn't mean you're alone. Your highs can bring others up during their lows and vice versa. This is how empathy works. People are designed to be attuned to those around them, especially those they are close to personally, and in many cases will emulate your current arc. I see this as a sort of mental health survival mechanism to help make sure you've always got someone there who you can find support in as you careen down your latest low.

Why, then, do so many of us actively seek to sever our connections with those around us in such vicious ways? We go out of our way to condemn a person's accomplishments and mock their joy, pulling them down, forcing them under, and then proceeding to keep them down by dismissing their lows. I've been guilty of this in my life and it's never put me back on track to an upswing or given me any sense of self fulfillment. It's only ever forced me further down in some misguided, bullshit idea that I can somehow find my way up on the backs of others.

To keep others down, you have to stay there yourself and when you do so, you become disconnected with no hope of being uplifted by the people you're stepping on when they someday find their way back up.

As I sit and write this, I realize that this analogy is well past the point of being heavy handed. I think the point I intended to make has been lost to excessive exposition. If there's anything I could ask even one person to take away from this, it's that empathy is the most critical aspect of humanity to being able to successfully navigate the highs and lows of our lives and our existence. While empathy is a part of the human design, it is a learned skill, and can thus be, at best, forgotten and left to wither, and at worst, suppressed and perverted. Practice empathy and connect in whatever way you can. Your highs will be higher. Your lows will probably be just as low... But at least you can find solace and hope from the highs of those around you.

Be good a good person. We're all in this shit show together.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alex Somerville

Alex Somerville

On a quest to become a game developer. Still sometimes providing unsolicited advice about how to function in society.