A Different Pair of Shoes

This past Sunday was rough for me, but through the tears and what-ifs and despairs that strikes too easily at times, I took comfort that now my friend Craig will never be forgotten.

Every 9/11 for the past ten years, I’ve done a little navel-gazing and thought hard about the kind of person I am and how I need to change. I try very hard to be fair, honest, and non-judgmental. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt until they give me a reason not to. There are very few people I can honestly say I don’t like, mainly because I’ve become pretty good at eliminating negativity from my life and identifying those who might suck the joy from my me (then running the other way).

See, navel-gazing. But don’t worry, I have a point.

Over the weekend I met a woman who’s in a very rough point in her life. I listened as she vented. I cut her some slack as she made a numerous comments with which I disagreed. I sat silently as she offended me without realizing it. Eventually I got up and said something to a friend, and she’d also been offended. (Sorry for being vague, but I’d rather not get into the particulars.) I never said anything to the woman, but it struck me that this person that none of us had ever met seemed unaware that her words were affecting others. She was hurting, and that’s all that mattered.

A lot of my social life is online, and I see this same behavior repeated over and over again. People venting publicly about things that seem trivial to them, but are quietly hurting those around them. Griping about a spouse isn’t endearing to a widow. Complaining about bratty kids seems ungrateful to those who can’t have children. Moaning about overprotective parents is hurtful to those who’ve lost a parent.

I’m not talking about the guy who tease his wife or the friends who report the episodes of their children; I’m bothered by people who seem unaware of the blessings in their life and can only see the negative. All I’m asking — hoping for — is that those people notice those of us who are listening, and stop to think about how you maybe hurting someone on the sidelines.

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. Beautiful post.

    Today the nurse managing my case called me and I had to quantify “how much” my illness disrupts my daily life. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst. I have it an 8. A lot of days, I’m home-bound. But I hope to H*LL that I am never a “venter.” That it’s with the perspective of, “I’m here. I have four healthy kids. What the heck more could I want?” I just don’t want to feel sorry for myself . . . want each day to have some purpose. And always walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Thanks for the reminder. xo

  2. Travis

    Great post. My wife and boys are certainly a blessing but my online friends are as well. Thanks for being one of them. And yes, Erica inspires many of us.

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