A few nights ago, I had a really heartfelt chat with someone I consider pretty close to me and someone I’ve grown to become protective over in making sure they were okay. It was in this conversation that the pointed out some of the qualities I have that I never really think about and why I do or express things the way I have. I never really gave my actions a second thought, but for me it’s a natural instinct to go over and check on people. To ask questions and to follow my gut feeling if something doesn’t feel right.

I’ve had my own struggles over the past few years, particularly with managing and treating my depression. I know what it is like to be at the lowest of lows and to rise above. I’ve reflected a lot upon my own experiences with interacting with others and how much it helped to have people around me who were not only supportive physically and mentally but also emotionally. That sometimes you can have everything planned out and then all of a sudden come to a crossroad or end up with no plan at all as someone close to me has come to realize. But one thing stuck out so much to me in our conversation that it really made me reflect upon my own life. Sometimes even though the options in front of you may not be a great as you had hoped, it’s always better than being off dead. For some, that may be kind of morbid to think about, but for me I kind of found it empowering in a sense. That sometimes life can throw you lemons, but in time you have the ability to make some good lemonade even if the first few batches didn’t go to plan.

But on another note it wasn’t until someone pointed it out to me recently, particularly how I treat other people, that I really thought about how I viewed and interacted with others. Naturally, I’m the type of person to knock on someone’s door or send them a message to make sure everything is okay. To give up my own time and sit down with someone to talk about what is going on. I like to see people reach their full potential and to make sure that when they feel stuck or down they have the supports in place to help them get to where they want to go. Knowing my own struggles, life can be pretty stressful, confusing, and at times the answer seems unknown but I always try to find a way to support someone including looking for resources (ex. Books, clinics, services) that I feel might be of use.

For me, I don’t feel the need to judge someone. I believe people are more than what they seem to be on the surface and I try my best to really dig deep into a person to understand why they are the way the come off. I try to exercise compassion, but it’s not always easy. I’m not perfect and although I try my best to not judge people but sometimes I too can’t help it. To be honest, I think one of the traits I am proudest of is my ability to be compassionate to others, even when others aren’t deserving of it. When I reach out to someone or bring something up I genuinely mean it. I am not the type of person who seeks confrontation and unless I feel something needs to be said I tend to keep my mouth shut and watch things play out. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past few years and one of the things I took away from my roommate is that I really only have control over how I feel and what I say and I can’t really expect people to react the way I would hope they would. But regardless of how people treat me, I refuse to let them beat me down and turn me into someone I’m not and that includes being kind and empathetic to people who may not necessarily deserve it in the eyes of others. But I do what I can control and hope for the best.

Similar to how many people ignore the homeless people that often roam around areas like bus stops, parks, or intersections, I try to view them as a normal human being. For me homelessness goes beyond personal choice, I don’t believe most people intend to be on the street or are “lazy”/”crazy” individuals. There’s factors such as abuse, addiction, mental illness, lack of education/financial support, job loss, etc. Who am I to judge a person for the situation they are in? It really makes me angry when people blame another human for the circumstances they find themselves in. What good does blame do? While I don’t believe in giving money to another individual because you can’t see where it’s going and I don’t want to become an enabler, I try my best to stop and interact with people through conversation over food. Many times, I get looked at with surprise that I would even interact with “them”, but at the end of the day they are no different then you and I. I’m not there to judge them or persuade them to go to a shelter, I’m just there as a fellow human, interacting with another being.

It’s how I go about my relationships in general. I never seek to judge, intimidate or put myself above other people. I enjoy being there for others in a time of need whether it be a friend, acquaintance, or even stranger. Sometimes all people need is just someone to sit and talk with, to bounce ideas off of and to have someone listen to them and I really try my best to be that person. I like to check in on how people are doing or feeling because I feel like in general people don’t ask others and I think that’s such a shame because we should be talking about how things make us feel. It’s how we learn and grow.

It made me feel really confident about my choice to enter nursing, knowing that I have the qualities that make a strong nurse. That one day I’ll have that opportunity to sit with my patients and explain things to them, listen to their complaints, try to help them feel normal, and comfort them when they feel they need it. That I want to try my best to not view someone as a patient but as a human, who is deserving of compassion, respect, competent care, and kindness. That I hope I will always remember that the little things matter, whether it be offering holding their hand when going through something painful, talking with them through the process of what I am doing and asking about their day, bringing them an extra cookie after a rough wait, or even changing their gown to a different colour so they feel special and attended to. Or even when I’m so tired and want to go home but a patient has no one else to be there to support them, I will find the strength to be there for them and help them find comfort whether it be nearing death, in recovery, or giving birth. That I hope when I am so tired and feel like breaking down after a long 12-hour shift, I will remember how I would hope to be treated if I were in their shoes and that non-verbal cues matter just as much as verbal language.

 It was really heartwarming to be told that I would make an amazing nurse in the future, because like any human being I have days where I doubt my capabilities and whether I made the right choices. I’m glad I had a chance to reflect on my conversation with this person because even though my intention was to sit, listen, and offer my advice to them, they taught me a lot in the process.

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