Monday, April 18, 2016

It's like the ocean

Last week I was talking to a co-worker about her life and a friend she has who she feels she's drifting away from.  She was saying that she just feels like it's hard to continue to be friends with this person because they don't ever seem to just fix their own problems, and it's frustrating.  I told her that I understood, but that people have said the exact same things about me before and it sucks to be the person who hears that the reason people don't want to be around them or whatever is because they don't just "fix it".  She seemed surprised that anyone would have that opinion of me, but in her defense she's my co-worker and it's not like she knows the deepest depths of my soul or anything.  She said that her friend just has so many problems and is always going through a rough patch and it's hard because she's not fixing herself.  So, I gave her this analogy:

Imagine you're out in the middle of the ocean.  Everywhere you look it's just water, and no sign of hope that anything good can come of this situation.  You're treading water where you are, and you're starting to feel a lot of despair.

Then a friend flies over you in an airplane, and they can see from above that there's a sand bar just 300 yards from where you're currently treading water in a bottomless depth of ocean, and upon seeing the sand bar they shout down "Oh god, just swim a little bit and stand up, you're being so dramatic!" and fly off.

The solution seems so easy to them, because they're outside and they can see it and they don't know all of the variables you're facing in the water.  They don't know if you're a strong enough swimmer to make it that distance.  They don't know if you've been treading water so long that you're too exhausted to actually swim.  They don't know if getting to the sand bar will REALLY solve your problem, because you'll still be in the water and maybe you're getting hypothermia, and at any rate, even if you can stand up, you're still in the middle of the damn ocean and you've got to get to land.  What they know is there's a simple solution from their perspective to fix your current situation.

The other problem is, they tell you to "swim a little bit and stand up" but they don't tell you which direction to swim, or how far you'll need to swim, or anything else.  All you know is you're being "dramatic", but from where you sit, all you can see is ocean and you're afraid of drowning.

Sometimes that's what it's like to be the person who "won't solve their own problems".

She looked at me as if I was some sort of incredibly wise individual, and said she had never thought about it that way and maybe she had the wrong idea about what was causing her friend to have these problems, and maybe she should consider the true cause instead of just looking at the situation in simple terms where a solution seems so very obvious.

I guess, in the end, I hope I helped her relationship with her friend.  But, if I didn't, at least I know I can craft a damn good analogy.


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