In this day and age, apparently it's "uncool" to take an interest in something or someone. My younger cousin who is 14 likes this girl and his logic is that he can't express how he feels about her because he's trying to play it "cool." He's showing her he's interested in her by not showing her attention in order to catch her attention. He doesn't call her, he doesn't like her photos, and gives her the cold shoulder at some points because he doesn't want to come off as needy or too interested. I think that's lame. If you care about someone, why don't you show it? Why is it considered "uncool" to express interest in someone? I think that it's one of those things in society where we're too scared to care about someone because what if they don't care for us back?
At the end of the day all we want to do it be known and loved by others. Every single person has a desire to be connected to/with others but yet we don't know how to let others feel connected. I listened to a sermon called Needers and Feeders that talked about God giving us a need to meet the need of someone else. When we need a hug we give someone a hug. It sounds simple. So if we want someone to care about us, what do we do? We show someone we care about them. In a world where we've been taught to carry the world on our backs and do things on our own, we have been conditioned to think that caring about someone is detrimental to us. Like we have something to lose if take an interest in someone. Let's change the narrative and actually care for once.
We all want to be known and understood but how often do we stop to listen. From our friends to coworkers to the people who serve/service us -- do we care enough to ask how they are? But more importantly are we courageous enough to ask questions? Care about others for one and let someone feel special. Take interest in the lives of others and leave the spotlight on them for once.
My favorite tips are:
Ask people their names. When they tell you, remember it and call them by their name each time. I read name tags and say "hi *name*" to my grocery clerks and they get so incredibly surprised each time like "do I know you." There's something powerful about being called your name because someone else recognizes you and sees you. You aren't just an employee, a server, a random person -- you're human.
Ask about someone's weekend. If it's the beginning of the week ask what they did this past weekend. If it's the end of the week ask them if they have any fun plans coming up. Get people talking about themselves and learn more about who they are outside of the context of just being your coworker, neighbor, boss, server - know them by who they are.
Remember the things people tell you. When you ask people questions or people tell you things remember them. If your memory isn't the best, have a notebook and write a few words down about your conversation. Then when you see them next, follow up on those things. Think about how special someone will feel if they tell you something about their parent and you follow up just to check in on that situation. It's the small things to you that mean so much to others.
Start small and let the conversation flow. For some small talk is uncomfortable but just start with the obvious: weather, current events, and just start asking small questions. Let the conversation just flow, wherever it goes to break the ice. Just be curious.
Finally, be nice. My mom has always told me, it's nice to be nice. Kindness goes a whole lot further than being rude. So when you talk to people remember that they too are a child, a parent, a cousin, a sibling, a friend, a mentor, a ____. We're complex humans and life sometimes gets hard, so have compassion in every single interaction. Love when you can and spread kindness everywhere you go.
The things that my parents raised me on and the things that I find to be so basic are deemed as their extraordinary acts. Why? I don’t know. It seems like we expect so little from people that we end up giving so little to others. We end up being skeptical of people who want to come into our lives and affirm our existence, we don’t trust people who are nice to us, and we’re taken aback when someone says “hi” to us. Human kindness has become a nice to have as opposed to an essential. Why is that? Why has kindness become a thing of the past? Why are we surprised when strangers call us by our names, why do we feel so special when someone takes the time to genuinely ask us about our day, why are we so rude to customer service when we don’t get our way, or why are the simplest things seen as this astronomical gestures that deserves praise? I think it’s because it’s scary to care and it’s a risk to take interest in someone else.
We all know what it’s like to be hurt. If we think hard enough we can remember the time when we were ignored by someone we loved or admired, the time where our voices were shut down and shut out by someone we thought cared for us, the time where we said ‘i love you’ and it wasn’t reciprocated, the time where someone didn’t show up for something that was so important to us, or the time where we told something so incredibly intimate about ourselves and that person abused that information. It sucks and it hurts so much. You end up so incredibly disappointed and end up thinking “i’m never doing that again.” We suppress our hurt and end up transforming that pain into armor. We put up walls and we don’t allow anyone in. We’re fearful of being unlovable and in attempt to never feel that pain again we push away the very things we want most — love. But I think the secret to being loved is loving others. We have to be able to give what it is we want. We have to be willing to risk emotional exposure to love others in hopes someone loves us back. It’s scary, terrifying, and everything in between but it’s more scary to never experience love again. The age old saying of “fall 7 times, get up 8” applies to us to never stop loving. So care for others, love on others, and let others love you.