With a new year right around the corner, reflecting on the past year can serve to ward off sorrow and disappointment and encourage self-improvement. Some of the best ways to combat sadness and regret is to either interact with friends and family or participate in events that reinvigorate one’s energy. The Granite Tower (GT) asked four Korea University (KU) students to share their opinion on the meaning of sincere consolation or instances where a specific incident helped them come to terms with their past failures.
Seo Hye Jin (’17, Interdisciplinary Studies)
When I first entered college, I had difficulties adjusting to my courses as they were very different from my high school classes. After failing my mid-term examinations, I was torn between whether to study for my finals or to just retake the courses. During this time of distress, I was able to share with my friend the things that were going on in our lives. While I told her about the difficulties I was facing in college, she seemed to sincerely empathize with me. I believe true consolation is listening to another person’s woes and anxieties. Those who need consolation can usually feel much better by simply sharing the story of their struggles with a close person.
Sahriah Ingratubun (’16, Media and Communications)
One of my biggest perceived failures used to be my high school diploma. The outcome was not what I expected, and by then I had already applied to KU. I was doubting every belief I had ever held up to this point, but I chose to suppress them. Later that day, I went to my post-graduation party, and everyone was ecstatic about having graduated high school. At that point I couldn’t hide my feelings anymore and broke down. One of my best friends noticed and beckoned me to sit down. She had known me for years and proceeded to enumerate all my achievements and positive qualities that she and everyone else saw in me. All I did was sit there and listen to her. Everything she said stuck with me, and sometimes when I feel down, I think about her kind words and they always make things a little easier.
Kim Hae Cheon (’14, Biomedical Science)
I believe sincere consolation is the ability to understand. Even though the words of consolation themselves are similar every time, a trite “you can do it!” sounds different depending on whether the person truly understands what I am going through or not. It is important to admit that not everyone will be able to put oneself in another’s shoes. If empathy does not come easy to someone, I believe it is much better for him or her to be silent and listen than utter empty words. At least being silent shows that one is trying to understand and care for another’s problems. That is why I want to be a type of person that provides a place of comfort to others that need consolation by at least remaining silent and caring for their needs.
Baek Kwang-Yul (’13, Business Administration)
It is important to note whether those who need consolation ask for it, since consolation can backfire when the person who receives it is not looking to be consoled. When I was in the army, I decided to send a Facebook message to one of my close friends, through which we were able to catch up with each other. When I started to share my exhausting experiences in the military, he replied “Tsk Tsk…Poor guy. Cheer up.” At that moment, this message infuriated me because I was not looking to be consoled by anyone, and it felt like I was being belittled. That is why I think one’s request for consolation is an integral part of true consolation. I hope that all KU students, including myself, can reflect on whether they hurt others in the past by attempting to console them when they were not prepared.