I want to share with you all something that transpired after a conversation with a friend of mine. We began talking about how the people in our lives are forever changing. Near and dear friends come and go. Some, whom we’ve called our very own family or our best friends, become strangers over the course of time. It’s just how life works. The only constant thing in life is change. Our families will always remain our families but they won’t be with us forever. It’s a harsh truth. A reality we sometimes try to run away from.
The reason I bring this up is that, even though all of the above holds true, it should not stop us from investing in other people. I remember telling my best friend, after a fight in my junior year of college, that he was the worst investment I had ever made. I tried to treat that relationship or that person like a commodity or an object. I learned that investing in people and treating them like people without expecting returns was really hard for me. I got so comfortable investing in people to see returns in whatever way I saw fit that I forgot the aspect of humanity that came with just being there for people.
Throughout college, I was constantly reminded of how broken people are just from being that person and living that broken life. We’ve all become masters of putting on facades and being all cheery on the outside even though we feel lost, scared, hopeless, purposeless, worried, depressed, sad, anxious, and every other emotion that we don’t want people to see on the inside. At the end of the day, we are all marketers of our own self. And the world doesn’t want to see a lost hopeless person. No, it wants a bright, happy, confident, energetic, and sharp person. That’s what people want to see, isn’t it? And isn’t that why we all become the greatest showmen of our lives?
There was a period in high school when I felt all of those negative emotions, all at the same time. I liked to call it rock bottom. I had no will to live. I couldn’t go home and look my parents in the eye. I hated what I had become. I made elaborate plans to run away from home and tried overdosing on pills just to realize I didn’t even have the guts to do either. I was a coward who felt all these horrible emotions and I didn’t know who to confide in. Random breakdowns in class and weeping in my parking lot became all too normal for me. I just needed someone to confide in!
I eventually battled through it by purely the grace of God. But it wasn’t something that stopped recurring. Throughout college, I was constantly depressed. Nobody really knew about it. I became a craftsman at hiding that scared and lonely side of me. Instead, I became the guy everyone turned to for help or advice. I remember crying and telling myself on several occasions, “How can I help provide emotional support or fill their jars with water when mine, is so dry and parched!”. I used to cry myself to sleep on multiple occasions and no one knew about it. I took to silence and withdrawal to deal with my depression. The struggle was real and the battle was lonely.
It was somewhere during this time in college, that I met a group of friends who helped me walk through these wretched phases. I finally had people to confide in. I felt being alone less often because I knew there were people who had my back. They became my emotional cornerstone. I loved spending time with them and just enjoyed being so involved in each other's lives. For the first time, I felt a sense of community.
But then my greatest fears came to pass. They ended up graduating two years early and again, I felt all alone. My emotional cornerstone was gone and I was hurting again. It just kept getting worse. I plummeted to new lows month after month and nobody knew about it. I was silently struggling and living through the pain. Nobody knew about it and it hurt more that people thought life was great for me.
But then there was hope. I was incredibly lucky to have found three people to stick it out with me till the end of college. I became so emotionally attached to one of them because I just needed someone who would listen to me. My roommates were very concerned for a long time and they always were there to hear me out. These three really helped me survive my dark and gloomy days.
By senior year, I began sharing more with my parents and about how I felt. The pressure of finding a good job and the pain of seeing others get there quicker was excruciating. It stung and I felt so worthless and purposeless. I had set such high standards for myself and I was failing myself on an hourly basis. I began to glorify death and hated living life. My Dad and my roommate were so often recipients of rubbish talk on how I’d kill myself or hire someone to do it for me. I was losing faith in myself because I felt worthless.
In a hopeless attempt to at least try committing suicide, I went ahead, knowing that it was medically impossible, and tried to drown myself in a bucket of water. I knew I couldn’t drown myself but I needed to do something about trying to stop the misery. I failed miserably and nobody knew about it.
I did eventually get a job and get through that phase, only because my parents were super encouraging with their moral support and their ceaseless prayers. I feel like I’m still alive only because of their prayers and by the pure grace of God.
Once I did get a job, again purely by the grace of God, I felt a little better and a lot more confident. But I had to move on. That meant leaving college early and leaving my best friend behind. I was really petrified that we’d drift out of touch as everybody else did. I couldn’t let myself do it. I cared way too much. I became emotionally dependent on her.
The move to a new city was not easy. I felt very alone and I was struggling with my internship. I felt like I had made the wrong decision and started my career on the wrong foot. I could not deal with how incompetent I felt. I started becoming very depressed again. I made a real effort to stay in touch with my best friend on a daily basis so that things would feel normal. But the work I was doing was taking such a massive hit on my mental health. I again felt so worthless.
Summer began and my Dad was again at the receiving end of a lot of blank death warnings and self-harm threats. I started praying for an accident to happen to me on the road so that I could die on a daily basis. I no longer had confidence in myself to live.
I became a glorifier of death again. I would praise how peaceful and numbing it would be to die, even though I knew that was all rubbish. I forced myself to believe a lie. By this time though, I had found support. I found a group of folks from the church I attended who were very open about how miserable or broken they felt sometimes and that they needed help. I didn’t understand how people could be open about their pain and suffering. There was comfort in not putting on a facade and finally being myself to people. Just a regular broken, scared and lost lad who was trying to fix things and understand life.
These people listened and they helped me. I was assured that I wasn’t alone. That made a world of a difference. They helped me through it just by being themselves in front of me. It was so reassuring. I wasn’t alone. There were others too who had felt my pain and could listen and help. I felt better in absolutely no time. I had never felt so mentally and emotionally stable before!
I firmly believe in vulnerability and community. These two elements of life need to coexist if we are all supposed to get through life. And of course, knowing that God has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.. Today, I can gladly say that I am more than blessed to be alive and I value and treasure how blessed I am to say that with confidence. I have a purpose. I can be vulnerable and I have a community to support me.
We need to realize that people around us do feel broken, we may not see it, but they are. We are broken people but we need each other to try to be vulnerable and invest time and emotion in each other.
Please do not judge people by their habits or how they react to situations. You may know people struggling with addiction who are only trying to fight the fear and cope with helplessness. It’s easy to judge people but it’s incredibly hard to listen to their problems and provide a lending hand. Listen to people, help them, and live life together because we were never called to live life alone or without being unheard.
I hope you were blessed by this. If you were, please share it with someone. Everybody should know that they can be heard and that they’re not alone.