How It Feels To Be A Part Of A Generation That Lacks Empathy

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people on a hill

By Laura Van De Walle

Sometimes when I hear the older generations complain about kids now, I can’t help but feel a little offended. Not so long ago, I was the kid they were complaining about and, to be completely honest, I never thought we were that bad.

Although the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to realize that there is one area in which I truly do understand and see their reason for complaining about us. This area is our lack of empathy.

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I look around me, and I often feel like my life is not so different from those I see. I go to school and work, I go out with my friends, I watch Netflix and scroll through Instagram.

From the outside, I feel like I fit in. Yet, a part of me feels entirely different as well. I constantly feel like I’m looking at those I care about and absorbing their emotions.

Maybe it is through writing that I learned to put myself into another’s shoes; after all, that is how you create the world outside of your own.

Perhaps it’s from all the reading I do, as it has allowed me to learn to lose myself in any world that is laid out in front of me, despite how different it is from my own.

In the end, I’m not entirely sure where it came from. All I know is that I don’t ever want to be the kind of person who doesn’t see the people around me, and I mean really see them.

Having empathy sounds a lot nicer than it really feels. It makes you look like this wonderful person who cares about everyone around you.

However, this also means carrying the weight of other’s burdens, feeling their pain like you do your own, and letting your own mental health slide simply because theirs is.

It sucks the energy from you and sometimes makes it difficult to find time and patience to face your own life and problems.

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Perhaps, the world we live in, where mental health awareness is so immensely essential, we have finally come to realize that protecting ourselves is important. This is an argument I have no issue with.

However, what I can’t understand is why we haven’t come to find a happy medium. Why can't we live in a world where it's okay to protect yourself and those around you?

I see illness and death strike down numerous people in my community, and less and less young people stand up to face it. What they don’t realize is that if they don’t stand strong for others, then how can they expect others to stand strong for them when their time comes.

Life will always, always be easier when fought together. My generation, although unique and strong, hasn’t learned that lesson yet.

Independence is necessary, but it has a time and a place. We have spent so much time fighting for the right to do things on our own terms, that we forgot what it means to help the person next to us.

One day life won’t be so easy for some of us, and when we need help we will look around and no one will be there.

Maybe a few older members of our family or community, but not the people we expect. While I’m proud to be a part of my generation, there are many, many ways in which we have excelled and grown beyond our years.

All I ask is that next time you fight a battle, hold hands with the person next to you because God knows they’re fighting a battle of their own.

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Laura Van De Walle is a student writer and a contributor to Unwritten. She writes primarily on topics of health, self-esteem, and relationships.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.