Just because I’m happy doesn’t mean I’ve lost all capacity to empathize with someone who is experiencing sadness. Just because I find it awkward with my parents doesn’t mean I can’t fathom the idea of gushing details of a date to a mother. Just because I’ve only lived my life doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion that may be applicable to yours, or that I can’t imagine any circumstance other than my current one.
True, we’ve never been on the same plane. I’ve experienced less than the tiniest fraction of all the experiences life has to offer so I can’t say I truly understand anyone’s problems. No one has been in my situation exactly as it is laid out in front of me, and thus no one will ever be able to understand my predicament in its entirety. Who can understand the extent of fear I have when thinking about the inevitable death of my grandmother? It’s not something I can explain in words. You can ‘get it’ and ‘understand’ it on the surface but no one truly GETS IT. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try. And I may not know what it’s like to be you, or how it must feel in your situation, but I can try to think past the boundaries of my own existence. We all touch on the spectrum of emotion at some point in our lives. Sometimes, we come close to one another in those beautiful moments when our shades are similar. Most of the time though, we’re just listening and trying to understand.
The bottom line is, nobody understands but you. In fact, “understand” is a useless word when it comes to anything and everything. But it’s one of the most hurtful things to push people away with a “you don’t understand”, because it means you see them as insensitive and trapped in themselves. We all can’t understand. But we’ll try because we care.