Physically, 7.6 billion humans live on this piece of soil called Earth.
Mentally, that’s another case.
I have come to a point of my life when I question my ability to comprehend a sincere friendship. It started off a few months ago, when a couple of my friends teased me because of my cheesy jokes and because of my overwhelming optimism about life. Eventually, the teasing became more and more redundant. This should have stopped a long time ago. But it didn’t.
Eventually, my friends didn’t reply to most of my What’s app messages or invite me to any parties or claimed that I lived too far to hang out with. I did receive a few dirty looks and I was interrupted whenever I talked. When I asked my friend Anna privately, she responded “You’re socially awkward to be with, it has always been this way.”
Socially awkward. Was I really that awkward? But one person’s definition of socially awkward can differ from another person’s definition of socially awkward. We each have different quirks that define our distinct personalities. But that label is engraved onto my head like a tattoo. I reflected and asked myself these questions: Do we reject others intentionally? Why do others feel uncomfortable around socially awkward people?
Reading and skimming while analysing Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, I was exposed to a myriad of social factors. Kahneman described two coexisting thinking systems: System One and System Two that might affect how we make choices. Although we use both, some thinkers depend on System 1 just as frequently as System 2.
What does that mean?
It means that not everyone thinks the same.
System 1 requires little to no effort in making choices. We focus on reaching to conclusions quickly and rely on our emotions. Meanwhile, System 2 is a slow but rational process. We use System 2 in making complex decisions.
For example, Kahneman reveals that people usually suffer from illusions of validity and understanding because of our dependence on these systems. The world we live in is spontaneous. The world we live in contains random experiences. We use knowledge and judgements from past situations to approach new experiences. The quicker we make assumptions, the less we notice newness in situations.
Reflecting on my current situation, perhaps I am a frequent user of System 2 thinking. I focus and ponder too much on logical arguments; I look for reasons as to why my friends might alienate me. I dig into conversation details, I try to break down their body language. But I think I shouldn’t do that anymore.
I would like to conclude with this comforting quote by the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung who remarked “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.”
I believe that Jung’s quote explains that some of us forgotten the meaning of being human. We shouldn’t reject or alienate others because of their differing aspects. I’m aware that not everyone can embrace the different social norms and quirks we have. But, we still should improve our communication. We should improve our sense of community. It’s time that we discuss our emotions and ideas openly, without fear and anger and rejection. At times when we disagree or when we feel uncomfortable is the time we talk. We shouldn’t rely on making quick and inconsiderate choices about our friends, shoving them aside. We definitely should not result to rapid joke making that can devalue our self esteem. At times, we should pause and reflect when we bond, think about how we interact with others and appreciate their characteristic traits.
Talk when you have an idea or story. Listen attentively when you don’t know. Building personal connections takes time but our discussions can allow others access to our most intimate stories. We ourselves are works in progress.
After all, we need to build more bridges, not burn any more bridges down.