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Our feelings matter too

14 Nov 2023 at 19:29hrs | Views
I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to be a volunteer at an online free teen support hotline last year. It was a place where young individuals could seek solace, guidance, and a listening ear during their most vulnerable moments. Each morning, we would gather for our "check-in" circle, a ritual where we were encouraged to share how our week had unfolded and express our emotions. It was meant to create a safe space for us to be open and honest with one another.

During one particular check-in, a fellow volunteer spoke up, I think she was from Eastern Mozambique or something, her voice laced with sadness and despair. She described how her basement had  flooded the night before, a tragedy that left her feeling utterly devastated. And what weighed on her heart the most was the loss of her precious family photographs - memories now lost forever, as there were no negatives or copies to salvage. The profound grief she felt was undeniable.

However, instead of receiving the empathy and understanding she hoped for, another volunteer interrupted her with a dismissive notion. They belittled her pain, asserting that there were far greater tragedies occurring, such as children in Chicago who had lost their parents to the dark clutches of drugs and violence. These children were left with nothing - no one to care for them, no food to nourish their bodies, no warm clothes to shield them from the biting cold of the night. In that moment, it became abundantly clear that they believed their own ideals and notions of what truly mattered eclipsed the feelings and hardships of others.

This mindset, prevalent even beyond the confines of our support hotline, is a perplexing one. It is reminiscent of those who adamantly claim that we shouldn't extend love and care to our pets while people in faraway lands suffer from the scourge of starvation. But how can we justify depriving ourselves of the comfort and companionship our pets provide? How does giving up our own well-being truly help the planet or those in need?

I find myself torn between two desires. On one hand, I yearn to dedicate myself to a career that will contribute to making the world a better place - perhaps by assisting those who are less fortunate or working towards environmental preservation. Yet, when I look around, I am disheartened to see numerous compassionate individuals trapped in dead-end jobs. They pour their hearts and souls into their work, enduring long hours and overwhelming stress. And for what? In return, they receive meager salaries that barely cover the cost of a one-room apartment, let alone support a family.

This sad reality haunts me, as it serves as a reminder of my own fears and insecurities. I fear ending up like my uncle, a man well into his golden years, worn by bitterness and financial ruin. During a heart-wrenching moment on Christmas in Murombedzi last year, his pain was too immense to bear silently. Tears streamed down his face as he confessed, "I'm nearly 65, and I'm nothing more than a destitute wreck. Why didn't anybody tell to take better care of myself?"

The weight of his words resonates within me, a stark reminder that self-care and acknowledging our own emotions are important. It is a melancholic realization that in our pursuit of noble causes, we often neglect ourselves and our own well-being. Perhaps, it is through finding a delicate balance between tending to our own needs and supporting others that we can truly make a lasting impact on the world. Let us not forget that our feelings matter too, and that it is in valuing ourselves that we can find the strength to uplift and assist those around us.

Kumbirai Thierry Nhamo | Social Justice Activist

Source - Kumbirai Thierry Nhamo
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