Living Values Out Loud

Exploring Empathy Part 1

Meghan Hatalla

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Paris at dusk (from Pexels)

I’m 21 years old, on my semester abroad, and slowly making my way up the steps toward Sacré-Cœur on my first night in Paris. It’s dusky. The lights are starting to turn on throughout Paris and, from the height, the sight is literal magic. I decide to lean in fully to the tourist experience and order a crêpe aux fraises.

“Wait, does she know that you can get chocolate?!”

I hear someone frantically trying to get my attention.

“Wait, you can get chocolate! Don’t you like chocolate?”

That interaction set the foundation for one of my longest standing, closest friendships. Her attempt to save me from myself continue to echo to this day, her advice usually framed as a cautionary tale or an admonishment steeped in facts mixed with values. We share a lot of the same values. It’s part of what keeps us in sync even when we aren’t able to see each other often as moms to young girls during a pandemic.

As we continue to move through the COVID-19 pandemic, that feeling of being in sync with my circle is becoming more and more important. From March 2020 — and I might even say from the election of 2016 — people have been visibly living their values. Whether it’s through mask compliance, Black, Blue or All Lives Matter posts, red hats, or meme-sharing, it’s never been easier to know where the majority of my friends, family, and acquaintances stand on a plethora of issues. Sure, there was always the uncle you knew to be diametrically opposed to your politics present at every family gathering. But with social media extending relationships beyond their normal cooling point (think old coworkers who you’ve followed on social media, or hometown classmates), there’s a lot of potential for peripheral judgement.

But here we are, a year out from the initial stay at home orders. Now, with restrictions lifting and vaccination card selfies proliferating, the invitations are starting to creep in. Weddings, bocce bar league, going out to dinner in notoriously mask-free establishments.

What if we’ve seen parts of these people that make us not want to continue the relationship or connection? How do you continue to connect with people who don’t share your values on things that feel very fundamental?

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Meghan Hatalla

Minnesota — based UX researcher and yoga instructor. You can find me as @megtalla in most spaces!