“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” -Booker T. Washington

This is one of my favorite quotes and concepts. If you go through your day wanting to help others, you’ll find yourself going places while bringing others with you. It’s amazing how much of an impact we have on those around us. Because of Lyme, I have seen how much those around me influence me. Whenever someone sincerely asks me how I am doing, my attitude suddenly improves and their kindness can help me get through the rest of my day. I’ve learned that showing an interest in someone’s experiences is the most influential way to “lift [them] up”. One of the things that I want most from anyone during my hardest times is understanding.

The true definition of listening is not only to hear what someone is saying, but to experience their feelings and try to obtain an understanding of why they feel the way that they do. I’ve discovered who my true friends are in just this past year; the friends who truly listen and try their best to understand me are the ones I’ve kept close. Why exactly am I talking about listening when the topic of this post is about “lifting [people] up”? Well, I think that listening is everything. How can you completely support someone without aiming to understand them? Truth is, you can’t.

When I look at everyone that I meet, I find that many of us have a common weakness: listening. Whether it’s pretend listening, multitasking during a conversation, or judging someone who is simply wanting to be heard, numerous of us struggle to listen attentively to those around us. Just think, if we were to all gain this skill, we wouldn’t have as many misunderstandings, judgmental reactions, or other causes of contention.

Earlier today actually, my mom and I were talking about bias and stigmas. I was stressing about one of my posts and was trying to understand how I could express my point without coming out as a know-it-all, but at the same time wanting people to take me seriously. Because of certain biased thoughts, I worried that I would come across as annoying or completely inferior. My mom communicated that I shouldn’t worry about these things, She pointed out that it wouldn’t be my fault if I was ignored or judged. After this, she shared with me her favorite quote:

“If you knew everyone’s story, you would love them.” -Emma Stone

My mom added that I shouldn’t care about these biased ways, because we all have weaknesses, but we are given the chance to strengthen them. I think that this whole conversation has everything to do with listening. If we listen to someone’s story or experiences, we’ll understand them and gain a love for them.

In short, we all have weaknesses. We all struggle, because, hey, none of us are anywhere near perfect and that’s okay. With this, we all look for support and the greatest place to find it is in each other. Through listening, we can support and love others more than we ever have before. We can all rise up with each other and become stronger. Back to the initial quote in this post, together we can “lift up” each other by “[listening to] everyone’s stor[ies]”. As a whole, we can “lift up someone else” to “lift up ourselves” as well.

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