We all lead such busy lives. Some of us are parents, some of us work, others study – maybe even a combination of the above. But no matter who we are, sometimes life gets us down. Sometimes we just need someone to be there for us, right at that moment in time. Not in a few hours, not tomorrow. But now. Yesterday, I was there for a friend… in this exact way.
Photo Credit: Sira Anamwong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It was Wednesday morning and I’d been dreading this particular day all week long. I needed to drop the older kids at school, then rush my youngest daughter to her appointment right after. Just like every other day, I had to wake up at 6.30am, have breakfast with the kids, get them ready for school, clean up, have a shower, then drive them. But yesterday, I’d woken up thirty minutes late: this had thrown my routine out of whack. If I ended up being late to school, I’d probably be late to the appointment as well.
So into the car we all went and I made the mad dash to school. We managed to arrive just about 10 minutes late. I sighed in relief; I knew if I hurried up, I could still make the appointment on time.
Being there for a friend
But after I dropped off my second daughter, I bumped into a mother from the same class. She’s a good friend of mine. I told her that I was about to take my daughter to an appointment. We started talking about how she’d been and how life was going. It was clear it wasn’t going so well; horrible, in fact.
As we walked to her car and got into an intense discussion, my mind was filled with so many thoughts:
Am I going to be late to my appointment?
Should I go now?
If we keep talking, I might be late…
But I don’t want to leave her, she needs me…
Despite knowing how late I already was, I chose to compromise: to stay a little bit longer and help my friend, but still try to make it there on time.
So I stood and listened. I listened to her talk about her life, her situation, and how she simply was not happy. My two year old daughter was her usual cheeky self, swinging off me, wriggling around in my arms; it was difficult to look after her whilst immersed in the conversation with my friend. But I didn’t care, I wanted to be there for her.
We talked for about 20 minutes. Starting to feel anxious about the time, I told her I was sorry and that I had the appointment to go to. She apologised, she’d forgotten all about it. I said it was okay, I wanted to help. She thanked me, and I didn’t regret for a second that I’d been there for her. I felt good knowing that I was there when someone really needed me.
In the end, I rushed to my appointment and arrived only five minutes late. Thankfully, I wasn’t called in for another five. It was a win-win situation for both of us.
Making the time
This wasn’t the first time that I’d set aside my own life to care about someone else’s.
- I have spent three hours in a car with an acquaintance, to help him through his depressive feelings. He wanted to commit suicide that night. I ended up saving his life.
- I chose to listen to a friend cry and talk about her separation, instead of rushing to an appointment. To this day, we are still very good friends because she knows I was there for her when a lot of her family and friends weren’t.
- I have hopped onto my laptop at 11pm at night (in Perth, Australia), to cater to an American friend’s time zone. He wanted some business advice. After our conversation, he couldn’t stop thanking me for all the help I’d given him.
Being there for someone else isn’t about dismissing your needs completely, but about realising that sometimes timing matters.
Sometimes we have to ask ourselves: Is it really impossible to help our friend out now? Is it impossible to compromise a little, so we can both benefit? Can we postpone our plans just for now, to be there for someone else?
Being there at the right time
Sometimes timing matters. Sometimes a person needs to talk now rather than later. Sometimes setting aside 15 minutes of your time to talk to someone could make a world of difference. Sometimes putting aside your own life could mean helping someone else’s.
So next time someone tells you that they’re feeling down, that they want to talk, or even that they need help moving their furniture, ask yourself: Can I help now? If I can’t, then is there any way around it? How can I show them that I still care?
It is always very important to think about ourselves, but it is also important to think about those around us.
Because as busy as life gets for all of us…
We all need someone to be there at the right time.
This post was featured on Digital Parents.