Today, someone did something that made me smile. It wasn’t a big thing, it wasn’t a grand gesture, it wasn’t something most people might think to comment on. But it was a bit brave, and a bit kind. I was coming out of a seminar, with a guy I had a seminar with last term. I’ve been off for quite a few weeks, and this was only my second one back. I have been stuttering, stalling, feeling inadequate, inconsistent performance, full of words, empty of words, emptied of words, lost for words, wordless, wordy, spinning, uncaught up, left behind, steps ahead. Rubbish.
And he said “Look. I am not sure whether it’s okay to ask or not but… Are you okay? What’s happening?” And I told him, straight up, that I’d gone a bit crazy, was pretty medded up. And thanked him for asking… Because it isn’t easy to go through this shit but it also isn’t easy to ask someone how they’ve been, or what’s been up- especially if you have an inkling that it’s “personal”. He didn’t seem surprised but not in an ohhh I knew it way. It was a calm acceptance and (I reckon) a genuine one. Maybe he’s had experience of these issues- maybe he hasn’t. It isn’t actually important. It’s important that someone I only know through uni but have got on well with, thought to ask.
It’s a cliche but- do ask. If you want to know if someone’s okay, if you’re worried… even if you’re just curious- ask. If I didn’t want to tell him, I wouldn’t have. If you’re in that position and don’t want to tell someone, then don’t. But be kind because asking can be as hard as telling, and when I said thanks, I really meant it.