*offers sympathy pointlessly*

(I think that’s the first title to open without a capital letter, and the first to include an asterisk – yup, this blog has degenerated into me rewarding myself for quirks of grammar and punctuation)

There are many things I can’t do: I can’t tell you the difference between the ventricles of the heart beyond that there are two of them, I can’t saw a plank of wood in half and refashion it into something else, and I can’t for the life of me 100% the 2010 racing game Split/Second: Velocity – there’s always that one time trial I can never get better than second place on. But these are rather specific skills, that I don’t hone on a daily basis, so I’m not too upset at my inability to do woodwork; conversely, I interact with other human beings on a daily basis, so expect myself to be pretty competent, even comfortable, at the whole ‘being sociable’ thing. It’s then a bit of a shitter when I can’t offer meaningful support or advice to people.

If friends are bogged down by their degree, James ‘I have seven contact hours a week and my first year counts for frak-all’ Casey can’t do much beyond make unhelpful remarks that ‘it’ll be over soon’, or patronising ‘I’m sure that’s hard for you’ pieces of garbage; even reposting fantastic pop music-Mario mashups like this one on Facebook isn’t particularly helpful, because when you’re spending 34 hours a day at uni, there’s not much time to listen to such brilliant things.

I’m also aware of the danger of bitching too much about this, because this turns the problems suffered by someone else – too much work, a quarter-life crisis, etc. – into problems that I have to deal with, namely feelings of social helplessness and personal redundancy. And this kinda discredits the original sufferers and their problems, in favour of what is ultimately the very First World Problemy ‘my life is so hard I can’t find the right Moonpig card to cheer my mate up’.

So do I make a big deal of this, and show or tell people that I are about them even if I can’t help, which emphasises my voyeuristic suffering instead of their actual suffering, or do I just ignore it and be the stoic prick I’ve usually resembled for the last eighteen and a half years? And should I be having this discussion at all, when these aren’t my problems, and I’m kinda sticking my nose where it oughtn’t be stuck in the first place, attempting to make a problem that doesn’t concern me squarely and primarily about me?

I don’t know, dude – life’d be simple if it weren’t so full of people. But even if I don’t know how to treat those people, life would totally suck without them.

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2 thoughts on “*offers sympathy pointlessly*

  1. Those ‘unhelpful’ remarks you talk about are so much more useful than you realise. I am a paramedic so I am so often in a situation where someone is telling me about how some aspect of their life sucks and I have to respond. Sometimes people want solutions and sometimes they want sympathy. Either way they are telling you because they want someone else to recognise and understand what they are going through. “That sucks” or “that must be hard for you”, if said with compassion and empathy, are actually very helpful and kind things to say.

    1. That makes sense actually – I’d always thought that caring without having meaningful advice to offer was a bit patronising, but if people mention a problem it’s likely they want it to be talked about in some (any) way.

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