I’ve always said the best way to understand something is to experience it. It took the life-altering experience of having children to finally get a sense of what I put my mother through while growing up. To become a better writer, I had to write. A better cook, friend, teacher, or a thousand different grains of knowledge I’ve acquired over the years have all been strengthened by experience. And quite honestly, I’m discovering that might be the easier route to understanding, but in reality it’s not always possible to gain your knowledge through experience.
Non-physical issues are hard to experience if you aren’t prone to those problems. Let’s face it, I’m not shy. I have zero understanding what it’s like to be shy. I do know what it’s like to be nervous, but I also know how to shove the feeling aside and barrel through where others don’t seem to be able to. I’ve tried sharing how I do it with others on many occasions, but the “telling” seldom seems to translate if they can’t create that feeling of boldness inside themselves. And that emotion is something I can’t give to them.
And it even goes the other direction. I’ve listen to countless people explain to me their struggles with depression, but I have no idea what that really feels like. To be honest, I’m grateful that I’ve never felt in such a funk that I couldn’t climb out, but at the same time my lack of understanding hinders my ability to offer tools that might help. And I doubt saying things like, “Come on. We love you, so just pull yourself out,” would be very helpful. But I hate standing by and doing nothing. I’m a helper kind of personality, but over the years I’ve had to learn to swallow my pride and admit that having a desire to help is no substitution for really being able to help.