Living Overseas and Human Connection

Venice, Italy. 2015

Venice, Italy. 2015

Perhaps it's because it's a bright and warm February day here in Changwon, or maybe it's because I've been actively practicing my plan of intentionality set at the start of the year, or maybe it's because I kicked meat out of my diet - whatever it is, I have been feeling very open and loose of late. Walking back to work from my lunch break today, I was struck with the thought that I've become much more forgiving with people when they don't live up to my (sometimes impossible) standards of communication.** I mean, how could one possibly survive with such standards when living in a country that doesn't cater to their native language? In that respect, I think, naturally, I was humbled by the (at times) lack of communication, or reluctance to engage in confrontation from my work peers. Guys, let's face it: periods of contention exist within every (and every type) of human relationship. The only things we can control are, perhaps, the actions that cause the contention to occur, and the attitude we adopt after said contention takes place. I also find that when communicating with people of a different native language, certain nuances just don't exist. You're left with (most times) basic words and phrases we would probably equate to grunts with our current levels of loquacity - or mine anyway, ha. But what I've concluded about this very basic communication with speakers of other languages, is that the message comes across as clear as the night sky. Little room for interpretation or misunderstanding. What you hear is what it is! I think I only notice this effect so much because it contrasts with the confusion I felt so many times living in the States and/or communicating with native English speakers. Okay, they said this, but it could also mean that... or that! Ohhhmyyygooossshhhh.

Adjacently, I'd always considered myself rather skilled at human relationships. What's being made clear to me now, is that I was likely just very friendly. Oftentimes, I would mask something that benefited me as a benefit to the person I was relating with. Of course I have no problem doing that for you, Teresa, because there's some innate benefit for me as well. Duh. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that behavior - shoot, I think it's smart sometimes in order to not to get burnt out in interpersonal relationships. What I realized, however, was a paucity of depth on my part. I have certain goals for myself, one of which is to become a better person as I age. I'm about 24.5 years old, and I'd like for my "altruistic" actions to actually be altruistic, and not just nice under the guise of altruism.

Anyway, that's a lot of talk, I know (I love to talk). Subtle changes in myself I've recognized concerning human relationships are:

  • pausing before answering a question to consider the question
  • pausing before responding to a negative comment to assess it's importance in my life so as not to get attached to the negativity
  • giving someone my full attention when they're talking to me, in person or not
  • chalking up another person's negative behaviors to their own atmosphere, life happenings, or other things that have nothing to do with me and that I cannot control

That last point is not to say that if someone is acting out of character, or badly (in a child's case), I eschew involvement; it's to say that I've really begun to lower my level of emotional attachment when it comes to retorting at comments/actions that grrrrrriiiiinnnndddddd my gears. A person should be looked at as their own entity - not merely as the role they play in my life.

So, when I talk about being an altruistic person, these subtle changes are just scratching the first layer. I've got a long, long way to go, full of regressions and achievements big and small. Good thing is, I'm the only one clockin' me! This kind of goal is so deeply internalized, I'd be hard pressed to find someone who can keep me as accountable as I can keep myself.

I'm curious to know, for anyone who feels like commenting, what are some changes you've seen in yourself lately (big or small)?


**Disclaimer: This goes for people in general - mostly strangers. The closer relationship you have with me, the higher my expectations are for considerate and appropriate communication. ;)