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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

Empathy

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

Humans 101

Instead of simply assuming everyone’s trying their best, ask: ‘What if they’re secretly suffering?’

Illustration of a swimming pool ladder going down into the galaxy of a pink person’s mind.
Illustration of a swimming pool ladder going down into the galaxy of a pink person’s mind.

When I am angry and irritated by a result I don’t want to accept, remembering to ask, “What if they are trying their best?” usually works to calm my roiling emotional heartburn. But a heated encounter at my community center pool last summer had me thinking about how I can go a step further to ask, “What if they are suffering?” Can “assuming suffering” go beyond just dissipating frustration to actually building a bridge of empathy? And should I extend this kind of personal empathy even to someone who is wielding systemic privilege?

I love swimming because it always makes…


This Is Us

In fact, we’ve got more than enough

I’m an autistic woman in my 30s. I’m introverted and a little awkward, but I do enjoy meeting new people and making new friends. However, I have this recurring experience in social settings that I find off-putting.

When I am in a room with a group of people who are neurotypical (that is, people with “typically developing” brains), I am often told that I don’t fit their image of what autism looks like. I am told that I seem too intelligent or too “high-functioning.” I am too verbal. My eye contact is too good. …


Internet Time Machine

Maybe people are just shitty. Or maybe it’s the internet’s fault.

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for his family because he’s not alive for it. He died of a heroin overdose last February.

This year is even harder than the last. I started weeping at midnight and eventually cried myself to sleep. Today’s symptoms include explosions of sporadic sobbing and an insurmountable feeling of emptiness. My mom posted a gut-wrenching comment on my brother’s Facebook page about the unfairness of it all. Her baby should be here, not…

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