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Texas has been facing a tragedy recently. The unexpected occurred and now they are under ice and struggling to access basic necessities like food and water. At the same time states in the midwest have experienced very similar weather conditions and yet they are doing just fine. It seems odd, right? They are facing the exact same circumstances, yet the outcomes are oh so different. What is happening in Texas is tragic and they were not equipped to handle a situation of this magnitude because this is not normal for them. However, just a couple of states away people are doing just fine during their snowstorms because their pipes are designed not to freeze and they have learned how to drive in these frigid and icy weather conditions. Their towns have plows and salt and there is protocol in place during the winter months to ensure the safety of the citizens. The outcomes could not be more different yet the circumstances are relatively the same. No one is blaming Texas for being unprepared because it was a very unfortunate natural disaster that literally could not have been avoided. 

To that same sentiment, no one experiences life in the exact same way. Nobody has the same schedule, interactions, family life, job circumstances. Each and every person is slightly different. Even biologically our bodies differ. The brain is so complex and it seems as though the more research we do, the more we discover just how complex we really are. The neural connections are shaped by our different experiences and our genetics factor into the inner workings of our bodies. 


be kind
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This is exactly why empathy is so important. No one’s grief, love, happiness, or anger looks exactly the same and that is because we have all been influenced by the environments that we grew up in. The thing is, when we think about what is happening in Texas, we feel awful. It is a clear example of an unfortunate situation, yet when it comes to tragic events that happen to others, we are quick to judge and slow to listen. We should be able to understand that no one’s life looks exactly the same. If something weird upsets our friend, that is okay. If a certain song makes someone sad, that is okay. If it seems like someone is overreacting to a situation, that is okay. How are we to expect there to be some mold that everyone should fit into in terms of how they face their lives each day? We are all so different and yet we are quick to call people weird or laugh at others who do not respond to life the same way we do.

 It seems so black and white thinking about a snowstorm in Texas versus a snowstorm in Michigan. Of course there is going to be a different reaction, because the environments in these two places could not be more different. But this message does not always translate over to human beings. We need to work on having more empathy for people who are experiencing a situation that is impacting them greatly, whether we think it is rather insignificant or not. We have all grown up in our own “environments” where there are different “protocols” in place to respond to disasters, and we can not possibly be prepared for situations that we do not encounter regularly. If there is one thing that COVID has taught me it is that everyone’s reactions to the exact same situation are vastly different and their feelings are valid. Who are we to judge how others respond to events happening in their lives?

Alexandra Kingma is currently a sophomore studying business at the University of Michigan. In her free time she loves watching sports. She and her friend currently run an Instagram (@corporateblondes) posting empowering content and fun day to day life tips.
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