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We all have that friend we know we can go to for a judgment-free discussion and are able to talk to them about anything and everything. You have that friend, or maybe you’re the friend that listens; it’s a struggle to figure out who that person is for everyone, whether it’s a friend, pet or even a therapist, we all need someone to listen to us the way we listen to others. The question is, do you have someone that acts that way for you, who you can confidently confide in without having to think twice? 

When people know they can come to you in full confidence without having to worry about secrets and stories being spread around to other friends or even family members -- you know we all have that one family friend and/or cousin -- it can be an emotional weight on your shoulders. The type of person that’s usually the listener is usually more empathetic and altruistic, wanting to put the needs and wants of others before themselves; while that is typically genuine behavior, it can also be detrimental to the listener. 

Not being able to voice your own opinions, problems or thoughts to someone else the way others do to you can make you feel quite isolated. It can make you feel as if you're alone with your thoughts, unable to physically talk them out to someone else and get another perspective on your situation or scenario that you’re going through. It’s important for everyone to have an outside perspective, and without it, it can take a toll on your mental health as well, thinking that you would be able to handle it yourself and internalize the issues at hand. 

Now I understand that you may want to push your feelings aside in order to focus on your friends, and while you have good intentions, you also need to reinforce those notions for yourself. While it is important to take care of your friends and family and be there for them, you are very well allowed to have that same experience with someone you trust and feel the same way.

To the listener of your friend group: you need to realize that you deserve to have your problems and issues viewed, heard and discussed just as deeply and concentrated as you do for your friends. Just because you feel the need to be that friend to everyone doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the same treatment, because you absolutely do. It is just as important to take care of yourself with the same effort and energy that you put into others, and if you’re not receiving that, then you need to have that discussion with your friend or find another outlet where you can discuss what you are going through in a private and personal manner. 

Shanzeh is a senior at Virginia Tech and is originally from Northern Virginia. She's studying multimedia journalism and minoring in international studies; you can usually find her in a cozy corner with a cup of coffee most likely listening to a podcast or watching a news relay. Shanzeh hopes to become an international correspondent and has aspirations to be writing, reporting, and photographing for a news outlet in the future.
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