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I don't know how to be human

I have all the ego.

All the charm.

All the intellect a person could have...

and it means nada, zip, nothing. 

Today someone close to me was emotionally distraught and I didn't even know how to comfort them.

There is something extremely messed up about that.

I didn't even know the basics that they by the way had to tell me to comfort someone. 

I'm 18 years old and I didn't even know you're meant to ask someone whats wrong. very very wrong with me. 

...I felt numb, i didn't want to hug them.

For the first time I didn't have some miracle answer to cure them or explain things.

I was speechless, i just froze.

That made me feel numb and in-human. 

I just sat there staring at the wall, with their hand wrapped in mine and I didn't know how to do fucking anything.

I don't even know how to care for someone else let alone myself. 

Then I tried to make logical responses like some computer over-anaylising things. 

Am I a horrible human being?

It makes me feel disgusted with myself, I couldn't even touch them much except for our hands...I couldn't pull them to my chest, I couldn't tell them everything was going to be alright...I couldn't lie to make someone else feel better.


How do you comfort someone If you have never been comforted before?

For once...I don't have the answer...and I hate it because it makes me feel so darn useless. 

This is someone I care about.....and I can't do anything for them.

...I a monster. you show your humanity, if you have never been allowed to have your humanity in the first place?

How do you show emotions when you have never been allowed to.

I'm...just a mess.

Advice please.



Re: I don't know how to be human

Hi There,
Firstly I want to start off by saying that the fact that you have posted here and acknowledged what's going on with you shows a few things:
1) you DO know how to care for yourself because you have taken action to get some help for yourself.
2) despite struggling to care for your friend you have acknowledged what the issue is and you feel horrible about it.


I don't have the answer as to why you are struggling to comfort your friend. As a starter what I think would be best to do is when your friend is feeling a bit better tell them how you feel and what happened to you. If they are a good friend (which I'm sure they are) they will understand. I'm assuming since you're 18 you're not at school anymore so you cannot go speak to a school councillor, maybe a good starting point is to book an appointment with your GP and explain things to them and see what they say and what they recommend to do. Also speak to your parents about it if possible. From my experience struggling with really big hard issues, speaking to those close to me and explain what's going on is the best as they can provide a good support network to help me through whatever the issue is.

But no matter what, remember that you ARE human because you are feeling emotions and you do feel guilty. From the sounds of it all you sound like a really nice person who's just hit a little bump in the road. Smiley Happy I hope you get through this and hope this helped Smiley Happy

Re: I don't know how to be human

I know how you feel. I have a gret deal of trouble around people showing emotion because I just... can't relate. For me it's more, if I myself am not experiencing the emotion, I don't understand it and it doesn't exist. 


One thing I found is realising that I don't need to have the answer or cure. When someone is upset, I just listen. I validate what they're feeling. This is usually all people want - no advice, no answer, no cure, just a shoulder to cry on. 

You also don't have to hug them! I prefer holding hands or touching people's backs. I actually quite dislike hugs unlessits from particular people.


It's okay. You're not broken, even if it feels this way. 

Re: I don't know how to be human

@AStudyInHuman thanks for sharing! I love your profile name - it's awesome.

First up though, I think you're being SUPER hard on yourself. You're 18!!!!! You're not supposed to have figured all that out by now. Empathy, caring, these things are skills and take time to develop.

I recommend practicing simple little strategies.
Like asking "What's going on? // How are you going? // What's been happening for you lately?"
Or taking someone's hand (if they consent) and giving it a lovely squeeze.
Or giving minimal cues when they're talking to you - that means say "uh-hi" and "mmm yeah", looking in their eyes as they speak and turning your body towards them - all this to show you're listening.

At 18 I thought I was a really caring awesome friend and it took a lot of reflection to learn that I actually had a lot of skills to build up in that area. So I can totally relate.

You'll get better at this with time but from what I can tell, you're not a terrible friend by a long shot!

Re: I don't know how to be human

Hey @AStudyInHuman,
Welcome to RO Smiley Happy


I can definitely relate to the situation you just described. When I was like 17/18 my best friend at school was upset one day, and I had no idea what to do. I was kind of standing there awkwardly while they were crying, and I asked them if they wanted a hug. They said no, so I just kept standing there. Eventually someone else came along and was more supportive and actually might've helped, and told me that asking if they wanted a hug was weird.


After thinking about it for a bit though, I realised that I have different levels of closeness with people. Most people aren't within my "I can share serious feelings" level of closeness. My best friend wasn't in that level, my parents and brother are kiiind of on the border but not really in that level even though they used to be when I was a little kid... It doesn't mean I don't care about them, but they're not people that I would feel comfortable getting support from. As a result, it's kind of a shock to discover that I might be in their "I can share serious feelings" level. And due to not expecting it and not having much (any) experience at the time since my level is kind of exclusive, I wasn't prepared and reacted pretty awkwardly. I have since found someone who is now within my "I can share serious feelings" level, and it turns out that it feels pretty natural to offer support to them.


So that was a pretty long story, but my points are:

  • As far as a first attempt at comforting someone goes, sitting and holding hands still works alright. You were physically there, and it's never necessary to do things you're uncomfortable doing like hugging or saying things you don't believe.
  • It's perfectly natural to freeze up if you're not expecting to be in a situation where someone's upset, or where you might need to comfort them.
  • Even though you feel like you might've stuffed this one up, it doesn't mean that you'll always stuff them up. You can practice and get better at it, and the cause might be because of "serious feeling" levels, or something different.

It sounds like you're interested in improving the way you comfort people, and I think the others have offered some good suggestions. Those positive qualities about you - your ego, charm and intellect - will definitely help you to practice and improve on your comforting skills too.


After reading through the suggestions from the others, is there anything in particular you think you might like to work on first?



Re: I don't know how to be human

Hello @AStudyInHuman,


I am a person much the same as you. I am not very good with emotions and as such have no idea how to deal with an emotionally distraught person. There is nothing wrong with that, not everyone is born with an inept ability to comfort someone. We all learn from experience, and from what you said, it is understandable how you reacted because you have never had the experience in the first place.


In unfamiliar situation, your brain analyses things in order to find a solution, in fact, the part of our brain used for reasoning and logic is hard wired almost like a computer. It does not make you a horrible person for trying to deal with it yourself. Also, by writing about this on ReachOut, it shows that you had really wanted to help the person and most of all, that you care for them, so i do not think you should be disgusted or feel useless at all.


Sometimes what people need in hard times is just for someone to be there, they do not necessarily have to say anything. Holding hands can give the same reassurance as a hug as long as the feelings conveyed are felt. Emotions is something you have to let yourself feel, let go of control and not be afraid to lose yourself by immersing in the moment. Try things like listening to music, reading fiction, writing poetry, watching movies and seeing art. Discover for yourself what those people felt when they created the things they did, and in turn, how did their work affect you.


As for showing humanity, read about the good things in the world like how people helped each other after natural disasters. Look at how humans banded together after terrible things like wars, bombing or mass shootings. Volunteer at homeless or animal shelters, orphanages or hospitals, or even just some charity event. Then you can see for yourself and feel the happiness that fills you when you see people truly smile. Knowing you have done something good for someone and that you made someone's day worthwhile, given them a chance to live one more day, eat one more meal, smile and laugh one more time, is a wonderful feeling to have. It makes the world a beautiful place. 


Best of luck on your journey, and despite the pain that emotions sometimes bring, i think it is a beautiful thing to have. Better to feel too much than not being able to feel at all.



Winter Rain