With Others

Back in elementary school, I had a friend who I was especially close to. We did everything together, and spent every possible moment in each other’s company. But sadly, before middle school started, she moved away. I don’t think I fully took into account how important she was to me, being so close to someone now seems difficult. She was the sweetest person I had ever met, and we still try to keep in contact to this day. But the problem I face is, how important is it to find someone to be that close to again?

There have been many studies and research done on the kinds of relationships people have with others. Healthier, happier relationships lead to healthier, happier people. A Ted Talk by Robert Waldinger is a spectacular conversation on this topic that emphasizes the importance of having good relationships with others. To summarize the main discussion of the ted talk, the central idea revolves around ‘The Harvard Study of Adult Development’. For 75 years they tracked the lives of 724 men and how they’ve aged. To quote directly from Robert Walkdinger, “The clearest message we’ve gotten from this study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. First, that social connections are very good for us, and that loneliness kills… ” Those men in the study who have had more quality relationships live longer healthier lives than those who isolate themselves and don’t have as many connections. To quote again, “It’s not just the number of friends you have… it is the quality of the relationships that matter”. This entire talk is one I highly suggest listening to, it is one that can easily change your perspective on how you see living life, and the others around you. Having close relationships is something of higher significance than I had thought before. Your entire life revolves around the relationships you have with other people, close friends, family, or even strangers you’ve just met. The connections you have with others have a direct affect on your health and well being. So what’s it hurt to be nice? To help someone in need, or letting the people around you know you care about them?

Now knowing the importance of close friendships makes me miss the old ones I used to have. Or perhaps is it because now I cannot recognize the ones I do have? Is there a difference in how I view the people around me because of my age? When I was younger there wasn’t much overthinking of conversations. Wondering if that person had really liked you, or wanted to be friends. As well as, when you are younger more things have the ability to make an impact on you. The people that you meet, situations you get into, and the fun that you had, have more of an effect on you, the younger you are. For example, in the essay ‘Children in the Woods’, written by Barry Lopez, he references a peculiar moment in his childhood that had compelled him to write about the strange moments that children remember. “I have never forgotten the texture of this incident. Whenever I recall it I am moved not so much by any sense of my young self but by a sense of responsibility toward children, knowing how acutely I was affected in that moment by that woman’s words”. As of now, later on in life, could I feel the same about the relationships with others? Stricken with the importance of certain moments, like a child could? The pure curiosity and acceptance kids have of their situation and the people around them seems to be a lot more special than the ones we could develop later on in life. It feels like an older conscience may make it too difficult, while clouded by self doubt and second guessing, to let people as close.

Despite all the debates and doubts, on whether close relationships are important or achievable. Being weary of the people in your life is not worth it when it sacrifices the kindness and affection you could be showing people. Even when people don’t reciprocate, it is still important to yourself and others around you to treat everyone with kindness. Treating people as though the person you are meeting could turn into a potential close relationship. A poem that depicts this idea perfectly is “The More Loving One”, written by W. H. Auden. “How should we like it were stars to burn. With a passion for us we could not return? If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me”. If equal affection in a relationship is not possible, be the more loving one yourself. Be someone others can rely on and trust, it’ll attract good people and quality relationships.

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