“It’s all relative,”-you hear people saying that all the time, but what does it really mean? Well, for starters, it means that everything is subjective. Every experience and emotion can differ depending on the person feeling it. Even if the two people are experiencing the same exact thing. Here is an example: You are eating shrimp, your favorite food of all the time, and your best friend tries some and hates it. The audacity she has to spit out this fresh and fried goodness makes you baffled and offended. Her taste buds aren’t the same as yours, so when you taste the buttery, fishy delight she tastes something entirely different.
Photo: Anika Huizinga on Unsplash
Now this concept is quite easy to understand in terms of food. You can apply perspective and relativity to many more aspects of your life. Let me give you another example: You and your best friend are fighting because you forgot to ask her to hang out with a group of people a couple nights ago. She tells you to walk in her shoes for a moment to see how offensive that scenario have been if the roles had been reversed and she didn’t invite you somewhere. You try for a moment to imagine if you were her, but you still can't see why she is so angry. You do not get offended when people do this to you because that simply isn’t your personality type.
There is a crucial step you must take in order to be able to walk in another person’s shoes (which is a phenomenal skill that can help you no matter what stage of life you are in, by the way). The step you are skipping is so simple you are going to say, “Really…? That is so obvious”. Okay, here it is: you are not her. You do not understand how she feels, even after reversing roles, because you are not the same person as your friend. Which seems pretty simple, and yet it is so simple, it is easy to overlook.
You have to comprehend that you will never fully understand what it is like to be your friend, and that is okay. It is okay that you two are not the same person. You just have to acknowledge the fact, accept the fact, and perceive a situation with that fact in mind. Seems simple enough, right? Here comes the tricky part. We should all be applying this to every single person we encounter, not just our best friends. Yes, that means not judging the mailman when he is extra aloof dropping off all seven of your Amazon packages this afternoon. You are not the mailman, therefore you will never fully understand what it is like to be the mailman. That is okay.
Being able to walk in another person’s shoes enables us to see experiences more objectively. It allows us to see situations simply how they are. It also grants us the power to communicate more efficiently and effectively. For example, once you and your best friend realize that you can never understand exactly what the other is experiencing, you can go about trying to explain the situation from your perspective. Just remember, when she shares her side of the story remember that you can never fully understand how she feels, but you can try to see things from her point of view. This should always be the first step to finding a solution to a problem with another person.
Next time you are in a scenario when exploring another perspective could be beneficial, try it out. It definitely couldn’t hurt. Try and experience what it is like to be someone else for a day.
Who knows, you might gain some insight about yourself during the process. Good luck, and remember: it’s all relative.
Jamie has been writing ever since... well ever since she could physically write. She loved the control of it. The power to create anything and everything and the power to take it all away. She loved how it made her feel. She still does. She has a slightly unhealthy infatuation with Frida Kahlo (But she is not a bandwagon). She doesn't have her hair the same color for very long, only partially due to the fact that she fears commitment. She lives by the words of Ernest Hemingway: "Destroyed but not Defeated" from one of her favorite books, The Old Man and the Sea. She is passionate about dissolving the stigma surrounding mental health issues and hopes to be an advocate for those suffering from a mental illness.