When your friend starts rambling about how bad his weekend was and how his mom was getting on his case about doing his laundry and he hates school and homework is hard and his friends were mean to him and….do you listen to him?
We all have times when it is harder than normal to listen to others. Like when our friends rant to us or are seemingly constantly complaining about something. We zone out, think about our own lives, and kind of just wait until they finish. It happens.
But truly listening to our friends, or to anyone who trusts us enough to confide in us, is one of the most important things we can do. It can even save someone’s life.
Take, for example, the story of Bart Palosz, a 15-year old high school sophomore who, by many measures, was a regular kid. He had good grades, he went to class, and he had a loving and supportive family. But at school and online, he faced incessant torment from bullies who mocked his height and his Polish heritage.
Bart committed suicide on Sept. 3, 2015. He had given out warning signs online and most likely in person as well, about how he wished he was dead and how he wondered if anyone would miss him. His sister, Beata, said, “I honestly do not think the school addressed the bullying. It could have saved him if they did.”
If someone, anyone in his school had been listening and taking him seriously, maybe his life could have been saved.
When anyone—your friend, your classmate, your acquaintance, whoever—jokes around about killing themselves, or wishing they could go to sleep and never wake up, or not wanting to exist anymore, it’s never a joke.
It can never be taken lightly or ignored.
We need to stop caring so much about ourselves and how we’re viewed and truly care for one another. Truly sacrifice a moment of our time to potentially save someone’s life by just listening to them and actually hearing what they’re saying.
It’s not hard, but it is work. It can be draining. And sometimes, we’d much rather just not pay attention.
But it is important that we do—we need to look out for, and be there for, each other. If we all could listen to each other when we share tough things, the world would be a less scary place, and countless lives could be saved.
So next time your friend starts ranting to you, stop your mind from wandering. And listen to them.