Tim Bornholdt

Working on a suicide helpline changed how I talk to everyone

It turns out that conversations with friends are not so different. Even when you think you know somebody, you never have all the information; something always gets lost in translation. Sometimes you strip away unnecessary banality but, often, something essential is cut. Friends might avoid the truth because they are afraid of being judged. They might be unable to put their thoughts into words, or they might be held back by motives or concerns they don’t even fully understand themselves. Or they might be expressing themselves perfectly well to you, but you twist their words because you are superimposing your own models of the world onto them. To varying degrees, there is an uncrossable chasm between you and everybody you care about.