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Thursday, June 13
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Listening is learning. Listening is loving

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Listening is a beautiful form of art. It is, however, impossible to fully appreciate without taking a step back to reflect on its ties to learning and loving. 

Listening is learning 

The amount of knowledge in the world I haven’t learned overwhelms me. There are so many individual experiences I’ve never had and never will have. I’ve found this both through the exposure travel gives you when you are in a new and wildly unfamiliar place and by being around others every day who have different experiences than myself. I find myself faced with a couple of options: make assumptions based on my own background and experiences, or ask questions, be curious and understand.  

I spent the past summer traveling and living in places I had never been before, all with people I had just met. It was making the effort to listen to their fascinating stories, while sitting on the carpet eating beans and drinking chai or while traveling through the mountains together on public transportation, that opened my eyes to their perspectives and formed a deep connection I will have for the rest of my life.  

By truly listening, I can learn from the insights of others, broaden my worldview, and make new and beautiful connections.  

Listening is loving 

I’m usually the quiet one in conversations. This is not to say you should be, too. In fact, I sometimes feel insecure when I worry I haven’t shared all of my thoughts or held a major presence in others’ lives, even those I know well. But I’ve come to appreciate the value in being a listener and in providing a space for the people in my life. It’s something I’m still trying to get better at, but it is a beautiful thing to practice. 

I have some wonderful friends who are really good at this. Many times when I shared something I was anxious about, I appreciated their presence as a listener. I found it comforting as well as incredibly helpful in providing clarity and another perspective. They asked just the right questions to make me reflect about whatever is on my mind. It is their active listening skills that deepened our connection.  

Listening is also challenging 

Listening is beautiful just as much as it is profoundly challenging. Listening can be emotionally heavy and draining, and it is important to take care of yourself too. Even when you actively listen to others, you don’t have to  abandon your own opinions and values. Conversations should never be one-sided, especially if you are committed to growing and challenging your perspectives. So while it is an art to listen, it is also an art to speak and share. 

Listening takes effort 

Be curious and  ask questions to understand others and the situation more deeply. This shows you care and are truly interested in what they are saying. Also remember to be open-minded, even if you don’t agree with the other person. The goal is to understand the other’s perspective, not necessarily change your own.   

When it comes down to it, there is so much to the world and to our lives that can be deepened by making space for others and taking the time to listen, share and grow. 

 

Annabel Prokopy (she/her) is a sophomore studying geography. 

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