Empathy and the Millennial Generation: I struggled in middle school and high school, trying to find genuine people. It was hard growing up feeling like my peers were constantly focused on themselves or others, when I desperately wanted to form real connections. Unfortunately, life now consists of everyone being stretched to their fullest, spending every waking moment at a job, playing a sport, or doing hours of homework at it is a lot easier to become focused on yourself. Not only is it extremely hard growing up in this day and age, but we as humans seem to be drifting apart and using tools such as social media to cover up the gap. It feels as if you have had more human interaction than in reality because we are constantly seeing each other online. I read a great article recently that helped me to justify how I felt in a world of disconnected millennials. I had a hard time adjusting to this way of life, and I am well aware that I probably should have been born in our parents’ generation.
I had great friends, don’t get me wrong. I had a blast in high school, and I come from an amazing community that I never take for granted. But I just wanted a little more than tons of good friends and acquaintances.
Coming to CU: I came to CU as a freshman in the fall of 2015, and I was astounded at how much moving across the country effected me. Everything in my life was put into two very contrasting categories: very, very good, or very, very bad. I had a lot of fun meeting so many new people, exploring the many outdoor opportunities that Colorado provides, and living on my own. But school became difficult really fast, and I missed my family and friends back home more than I could have prepared for. I was so lonely despite being around people every second of the day, and I stopped going out or even doing the outdoor activities I love. I was not in a good place and it showed.
Siena: I met Siena on Facebook the winter before coming to Colorado. Both being from the East coast, we thought we would be a good match as we had pretty much everything in common. We became really close immediately, and she was and still is my best friend here. She could see me slip into my bad place however, and she was quick to help. It’s hard when you come to a new place where everyone is having the time of their life, and its taboo to mention any doubts and fears that you’re having about your school. Siena could not have been more amazing, listening to me as I cried and vented about my concerns that CU was not the right place for me and how I was so unhappy. I can’t thank her enough, as I know it must be so hard to hear someone question the institution you chose as well. She was the only person I could talk to. I truly felt as if she was frustrated for me as well, and she helped me create so many plans to better my life here. (This involved lots of lists, both of us being big fans of list making for the many mental benefits of creating lists) I think that is how I identify the difference between sympathy and empathy in life; it is one thing to listen to someone’s problems and then continue on your day. But to listen to someone and genuinely feel their pain and help them to act on it is true empathy. To this day I stand by the fact that I have only met two people that are truly themselves to their core, one being my mom and the other being Siena. She is a special person and it truly was refreshing to meet someone my age that knows themselves and is willing to help others at any cost. I live with her again this year, and we continue to be support systems for one another.