Compassion in Unlikely Places

Photo by Rachel Claire on

Yesterday I witnessed one of the most beautiful instances of love that I have seen in over a year.  I’ve mentioned several times that my organization is going through a lot of changes.  For the last year we’ve been in this awkward position of acting like everything is normal when it isn’t.  That has created an unbelievable level of mental strain.  There is also immense guilt and frustration because many of us have been so privileged during all of this (keeping a roof over our heads, continuing our jobs, eating, etc.) that it feels wrong to feel stressed.   There is an accompanying anger for so many reasons, for so many things that feels so unresolved and uncertain that you just don’t know what to do with it.

At work, we’ve been good about checking in with each other and seeing how we’ve been doing.  But it isn’t something we were accustomed to and it came across as a little superficial.  We would all say we were ok and maybe share a little detail about ourselves, but any real discussion made us uncomfortable.  Until yesterday.  The organization has one person who has created an amazing outreach for employees and my boss took the time to check in using this program.

It was one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve ever shared with a group of people, and it certainly was the most cathartic experience I’ve had at work.  We shared real stories about real things happening in our lives.  We actually let ourselves out of our cages and said what was happening.  We cried, we admitted things we should have talked about months ago.  And that was all we needed.  To see each other as we are and to know that we aren’t alone—not just saying we aren’t alone, but actually showing each other we are present, listening, and understanding what we’re all going through.

For some time now it has felt like we were losing hope.  Like we weren’t really supporting each other and it didn’t feel like we were supposed to do anything other than our jobs.  That conversation yesterday was just the first of what will really bring about healing but that first step was so important.  Vulnerability is scary but it is necessary to remember that we aren’t alone and that we have people we can relate to.

It’s actually sad that this type of compassion isn’t the norm at work—because it works; in order to do the best job possible, there has to be an element of humanity.  The same is said for our daily lives.  In order to be the best person we can be and in order to fulfill our purpose we need to remember our humanity and celebrate it, to resonate with it, and to share it.  That’s all we need.  I believe we need to make practices like this a norm because we are more than a machine designed to work 40 or more hours to collect a paycheck.  We are designed to embrace life, no matter what that brings.  And to remember we are never alone.       

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