The empathy spoken from Matthew’s eyes

Introduction

I had had a weekend chasing my self’s desires, sexual ones, or at least that’s how it got projected. Of course, it was the weekend, and as a single man, I can choose to spend it however I like. As long as I don’t harm anyone, I personally feel anything is acceptable.

Of course one ends up having to bear consequences of such behaviour. And tiredness, both emotional and physical can be the obvious consequence.

So I rocked up at work Monday morning as planned, despite my weekend being a spontaneously beautiful mess.

To clear any doubts, this weekend had nothing to do with Matthew, at least not the Matthew I’m writing about. Who knows if I had met a different Matthew during the weekend, I may have not asked the name!

Oops!

But let’s focus on this one Matthew for a moment!

A Stranger named Matthew

Matthew was different and unique, he had joined my team at work soon after I had joined. He was the only one within the team with a certain speciality. Being a brand new team, with not much help around what was inherited, each of us were struggling in our own way, and expressed those struggles in our own way. I was barely coping, but having being over-burdened with financial difficulties and being called a burden during times I had left jobs facing financial hardship, I wasn’t prepared to give-up another job, or show my inner emotions to anyone at work. But, Matthew didn’t have much filters. While I was silent and picked and chose who and when I “vented” with, Matthew didn’t appear to do that. I have never met this personality before either, so the two combined, I struggled to understand him.

Within an entire new team, although I worked with him at a professional level, I couldn’t build a friendship, although I had already built some level of friendships with the rest of the team. For a team like us to operate well, we really had to have each other’s back, and without understanding each other, and building some level of a friendship it wasn’t going to be easy.

Knowing this was one thing, overcoming that was another!

Naughty Nim sees Matthew for the First time

So, that Monday I was speaking about, I came to work, with all my filters on! I was not going to show anything, and definitely focused on performing well. Of course as if God was playing games, this particular Monday, everybody wanted something from me within the first half hour. I was keeping up with it all and performing ok.

The funny thing is, any “normal” day I would have wanted a break, but the “judge” within me had defined that this wasn’t a “normal” day, and I hadn’t rested enough, so keep chugging along. The context switching was quite heavy, and I observed each person’s request, managed to get the information requested, but insides couldn’t help but wonder

what on earth is going on, why does everyone want everything right here, right now!!!

The requests came from different teams, my own brand new team, and teams from interstate who I hardly speak to. In fact people who had already left also decided to call me and have a chat on the same day. It was weirdly busy. No one was offering help or was mindful of how many things were requested from me. This included all the friends within my team. Of course, I wouldn’t blame them, as I hadn’t asked for help either.

I heard my name. It was Matthew, just standing up.

Nim, would you like some help?

Simple sentence, but the depth was not in the words. It was in his eyes, he was not only dead serious, he wanted me to know he can drop everything and help me if I wanted him to. Just a few seconds longer eye-to-eye confirmation of genuine concern. It was pure empathy, no bullshit what so ever.

It moved me so much, that I have photographic memory of this incident. I remember where exactly I was standing.

I saw him for the first time that day. I had to stop and know him. I had to know this irritating human being who I was struggling to understand.

That was my turning point. I set the intention to know and understand him.

Thompson and Thomson, that’s Matthew and Nim!

God has been kind to me. Yes I have my days where I forget what I have, and focus on have nots, but God has been kind to me.

We often don’t see the kindness as we are often too focused on the “packaging”. We usually get along with personalities or “packaging” we already know.

Matthew and I since then have had many conversations, I have opened up about what I see in him as weakness or why I struggle to understand him. I also opened up about how I was blessed that one day he stopped for me. He does the same thing with me.

Quite by accident, we met outside of work as well, not at all planned. It was a day trip to Wilson’s Prom, with a bus full of tourists. We had a ball that day, I ended up annoying Matthew so much, which is what I do when I like someone, and he seemed to be completely fine. I also quietly observed his unique personality. Amazingly enough he reminded me so much of me. Which was even more hillarious as I was struggling to understand him initially.

Since then, he has been a beautiful friend. We bounce off each other, advice each other, we also can be direct with each other. We work pretty well together, and sometimes he runs away from me professionally, as he knows exactly what it means if I am looking for him!!! We now call those professional adventures “Thompson and Thomson” referring to Tin Tin, as these adventures are far from perfect, probably looks like a comedy, but we learn along the way, and genuinely focused on delivering value.

He also knows most things about me. Not through third-party, but directly, hearing from me one-on-one. Only sometimes he has to say “TMI”. Well that was when he wanted to chat with me about work while I was in bed with a date. He had to see a picture with the tag line

sorry work is the last thing on my mind

It is an absolute blessing to have that friend at work. I can be me. I don’t feel judged. I don’t have to be someone else at work. There is no professional and personal separation, we talk personal at work if the need arise, and professional when we are at home more often than not. What ever needs focus gets focus. Some of our brains are wired that way, it requires more energy to put that thought into the parking lot, than to address it then and there.

Thank You

Matthew,

I hope you are cool with this public note. But I couldn’t get you a Birthday present. So this is my gift to you, a little note saying thank you for coming into my life.

So many people along the way shape who we are, please always know that even on a day that we don’t talk as often, meeting you has shaped who I am, and I will always remember the moment I first truly saw you.

Happy Birthday!

– Nim –

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