Listen to their stories

Appreciate someone who differs from your point of interests. It is incredible how much we can learn and grow through this experience. If done correctly, it can be quite humbling.

Being a non-traditional student, I am able to walk through life as a student on campus and trod the path of the real world. I remember when I first entered college seeking a journalism degree. I found myself searching out like-minding individuals, but now I find it more interesting to reach out to those that see life through a different paradigm.

Journalism taught me to research and follow the money. It was necessary to ask the tough questions. Who stands to benefit? What do people and organizations represent?

Now that I am building upon my nursing degree, I find myself looking deeper. I can assess a situation and see an agitated patient and witness their combativeness. I can see the patient is acting out in an aggressive manner, but why is this happening?

The patient may have a urinary-tract infection. They may be retaining carbon dioxide. Are their needs being met? Do they know why and where they are at the moment? Is there a cultural or language barrier?

I have been interested in sports my whole life. I wrestled, played soccer, baseball, tennis, ran and lifted weights. I was so excited to be a father for the first time. Thirteen years ago, I was blessed with a daughter. I just knew she was going to be athletic.

She played basketball, soccer, did cheerleading, softball and running. One day after running about three-and-half miles with me, she was red-faced and looked totally unhappy. I asked what was going on with her.

“I don’t like running, Dad,” said my daughter. She went on to explain that she didn’t really have a love for sports. I was confused.

“Why do you go running with daddy,” I asked. She explained that she liked to spend time with me, so she was willing to do it.

I immediately told her there was no need to do something she didn’t like, just to spend time with me. I told her she has to figure out what she likes. She has to figure out what is exciting and interesting to her. Then, she should seek it out and I would support her.

After some time, she discovered band. I was doubtful that she would stick with it. I had no idea how to help her and that made me feel uneasy. I noticed that she liked the television show, Glee. My daughter also liked to sing. I found out she liked to dance.

Her school got a new band director. He is very young, and fresh out of college. He has a passion for band that I have never seen. He puts a lot of effort into the program. He wants to see the kids succeed and he is fully invested.

At church, there is a group called Seeds of Faith. This interpretive dance group performs to Christian music in front of audiences. They also compete at times. My daughter became a part of this group.

She also found choir at school as well. I recently watched a show and I was impressed with the evidence of hard work in the preparation of the performance.

I don’t know the lingo of the things in which she is interested, yet. However, I instill in her the same values that made me successful in sports. You can’t skip out on practice. You have to show up and give your best effort. You have to get your mind right and use that nervous energy to your advantage. You have a team and they depend on you. Your time practicing and working hard will show up when you perform. This is how I motivate her.

At school and in life, I love to listen to people’s stories. I like to learn what makes people smile. I try not to shutout others. Everyone wants to talk about what makes him or her happy.

I urge you to ask why people are acting a particular way, especially if it’s strange to you. Try to look at life through their perspective. What kind of obstacles are they overcoming? What page of their life are they living?

You may not be able to share jargon, but you can be a listening ear. People love to be heard and feel like they matter. Find someone on campus. Find out what is important in their life. Ask questions. Before you know it, you have made a friend. You have learned something about someone else and possible discovered something about yourself in the process.