When I was 5, I told my grandma, only my grandma, that I want to be a customs officer when I grow up.
The reason that I only told this to my grandma is that I know she would not laugh at my dream, for she has always been a listener instead of a judger.
“I’m sure you will become whatever you want to be in the future!”
Grandma is sitting on the bed, trying to find the pills that she will take later, and listening to me talking.
“You know why I want to be a customs officer? Because I will be able to sit in a huge glass box! The safest place in the world!” I said this while I cover my ears with my hands, trying to cut the sound of the cicadas off my ears.
I jump on the bed and sit next to her and start talking about my model car collections. Her mouth didn’t move a lot.
Still, she makes me feel like I can keep talking and talking because she is always there listening.
How could someone be so supportive while the only thing she does is sit there and listen?
I really hope there will always be someone willing to listen to me.
What about I also start to listen to people more?
I betrayed my childhood dream when I grow up, which I’m no longer obsessed with staying in a small space. Instead, I came out of the box that used to make me feel “secure.
” I joined the debate club in middle school, went to study abroad during high school.
I made presentations while there are hundreds of eyes under the stage, looking at me. I encountered people from different countries, with different beliefs, and became increasingly interested in human relationships. However, the one thing that I’ve never forget to do is listen to others because I know how listening is just as essential as speaking. I still remember that warm feeling when my grandma chooses to listen to me and encourage me.
As I encountered more and more people, I realized that people are more willing to be speakers instead of listeners,and that’s where most of the conflicts originate from.
Of course, the different biological bases each person has and the different environments people live in makes them generate different emotions, and make them interpret those emotions so differently, that eventually create each individual a different reality, making people harder to understand others. But listening is never wrong—it not only provides a sense of support, but also a sign of telling people that “I may not be able to feel you truly, but I want to try.”
My interest in the “different realities theory” (I wish could think of a better name) drives me into the field of neuroscience. I want to know if there’s a way in which people can genuinely connect to each other, and we can understand better of ourselves.
Last summer, I got the chance to attend the clinical neuroscience research program at Stanford University, where I got the opportunity to listen to a patient with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders to tell her story. I could say it was during her speech, I made my decision to become a neurosurgeon in the future. The strength and determination she showed touched me deeply.
I know that I not only want to cure people, but also to guide and heal them through challenges and sufferings. Another experience that makes me more determined about my dream is when I organized a group of 7 people to visit a poor village in North China.
Our original goal was to improve its public facilities. We designed a central square and a community service center; both are under construction now. What also caught my mind is when the village head told me that many of the villagers suffer from hereditary neurodegenerative disorders, and most of the people do not seek treatment because of poverty. I seemed to hear their voices from the silence, accompanied by a feeling of helplessness, but also a strong motivation to change this status quo.
It’s all these different voices I choose to listen to, all the different perspectives that I tried to understand, shaped the person I am today—caring, understanding, supportive, full of empathy, and willing to make changes in the world, and I know there are still so many voices that I need to listen, knowledge that I need to learn, people that I need to care about.
I know this world has never been silent.