a notable caveat: i say "i am a good listener" not because i have a knack for retaining information i'm told, or for being patient, or not interrupting. i say it because i really like to listen to people, and i truly care what people have to say.
(provided it is not pertaining to something entirely lacking in substance and depth)
this morning i spent my half-hour train ride to school listening to a 30 year old woman named Ellie tell me about she and her boyfriend of two years breaking up that morning.
i learned that she found text messages from multiple women on his phone, that he lied to her about it, and then threw her down on the ground when she tried to use his phone to show him what she had found. i saw the cuts on her hands from her fall. they had been planning on going into a lucrative foreclosure business, and so she demanded that he take her to the bank to pay back the $10,000 that was her portion. she showed me the envelope that held this cash in her purse.
she apologized multiple times, realizing it might be silly or odd for her reveal all of these things to a stranger on an amtrak, and yet, she continued to talk to me until it was my stop.
i told her, "it's ok. sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger."
then ellie told me about her mother's response to her boyfriend; that she deserved better and ought to have left him long ago. she told me she was dreading telling her mother, that she could hear her telling her "i told you it would end this way..."
she spent a large amount of time verbally kicking herself for staying with him, for thinking he could change.
i told her, "sometimes we do that as women- we see things for how they could be, instead of how they are."
i probably said no more than 30 words to this woman, but spent 30 minutes listening to her spill the intimate details of her life. it was an incredible experience; so often do i think about strangers and how everyone has a pressing issue on their heart and mind that so few people ever know about. here, this woman, who i don't even
know, shared her heart issue with me, not sparing the less-than-flattering details.
i find that i am a student of people. people are absolutely, devastatingly fascinating to me. for this reason, i thought i would like psychology, but have found it surprisingly boring. i prefer interaction (whether in person or through characters in books).
within interaction, i prefer to listen.
this is not because i am so humble or unassuming to think that i have nothing to contribute, i only genuinely take a greater interest in other people, their opinions, their concerns. i want to understand.