You all have heard of my roommate from my previous blogs, right? Well this post is going to pertain to a conversation I had with him a few nights ago. For those who may not have read about him before, he’s from Korea and he’s here taking ESL (English Second Language) classes. When I first met him, communicating was very difficult because of how limited his vocabulary was and poor grammar skills. Most of the time when I would talk about him or if someone asked how it was going with him, I would say something like, “He’s a really nice person, but I can never talk to him. He barely knows what I’m saying and I can barely understand him. Mainly we coexist right now.” Since I first met him, his English has developed an insane amount. We’re now able to hold entire conversations, and more impressively conversations about a variety of topics. I speak to him and he to me a lot more and I’m learning more and more about him where I couldn’t before.
That brings me to the conversation we had. We started talking about how we met with another guy and discussing funny memories we’d had, and he began describing why he hadn’t talked a lot to me. From my perspective, I assumed it was because English was too difficult to converse in and he just didn’t want to try talking to me, and I felt the same way. He pointed out that at the beginning of the year we’d spent a lot of time together going to dinner or playing frisbee. I’d forgotten about that, but he was right. In the first few weeks, we had spent quite a bit of time around each other just trying to be friendly, but he’d stopped after a little bit. Again, I just assumed that it was because of his inability to speak English very well, and that played a role, but there was a lot more going on than I realized.
For the sake of his privacy, I won’t share a lot of details, but the gist of the story was that he was having issues with his family back in Korea and he’d become depressed. I didn’t realize it though because even know I roomed with him, I hadn’t gotten to know him well enough to distinguish abnormal behavior. Any abnormal behavior I did detect I attributed to him coming from a different culture or simply being a strange person. I never even considered that he might’ve been depressed. It’s strange too because I had off and on depression last semester as well, but neither one of us talked about it because we literally couldn’t communicate to each other. We just stopped talking to each other and neither one of us realized what was happening to the other.
So that’s what I have to talk about. Open your eyes, people! I know we all think we know people super well. We all like to think we’d notice something wrong with our best friends or with people we see every day, but it can be tricky business distinguishing between a rough day, depression, or other reasons. I know it can be hard to care about others when we’re constantly worrying about how we’re going to take care of ourselves and get by because I struggle with that daily. I lose faith in myself, in others, and in God as well. I start worrying about everything that’s going wrong in my life and I become oblivious to what’s happening around me because, at the end of the day, it’s all about me. We idolize ourselves at the same time we tear ourselves apart. People are selfish. I know there are times when we can be selfless and people can do real good, but I stand by what I’m saying. Look around people. Open your eyes and realize that we’re ALL suffering and in pain.
For those not versed in Buffy, this episode is special. Buffy gains the ability to listen to peoples’ thoughts through a demon’s blood. It’s while listening to other people, she discovers someone is planning to kill all the students. She suspects the boy in the gifs, Jonathan, but it turns out he’s not using his rifle to kill others, but to kill himself. Buffy fights to save the world and innocent lives, so hearing so much pain coming from her fellow students nearly incapacitates her and she drops this information to Jonathan that I think is beautifully applicable. You may not be able to feel the emotional punch these words carry, but I hope you can. Go watch the episode (it’s on Netflix!!) and experience it for yourself.
Anyway, pay attention to what’s going on with those closest in your life. You never know exactly what they’re thinking and you won’t unless you ask them. Listen to them, be willing to be vulnerable, and talk about your own problems. We have to learn to trust each other more and take care of each other.