I must say, when people talk about their friends and friendships, I’m quite the skeptic. I always tend to question the quality and depth of those relationships, especially when they talk about friends whom they can’t even communicate fluently with.
Now before you shun me, please understand. I grew up a TCK (or Third Culture Kid, for those of you who don’t know what that stands for), therefore the constant moving and uprooting has given me the opportunity to LIVE in foreign countries, therefore forces me to interact with people in an intercultural manner on a daily basis. And trust, it’s effin’ HARD WORK!!! But then, when I think about it, maybe it’s the constant moving that has left me to become cynical of friendships at times. I guess ever since I was young, there came a point in time when I thought, ‘why bother when I’m leaving soon anyway?’
So yes, even today, as a young adult, I question the quality of relationships many people boasts. How many people do you really connect with? How many people are just there to be arm-candy of sorts? How sure are you that these people that you call friends aren’t just using you (learn English, help with homework)? I mean, there are times when I don’t even understand some people who speak English fluently, how am I expected to fully understand someone whose language and culture I don’t know?
I know some people who know me would probably be surprised at this pessimistic outlook in life. I mean, most people say I’m so upbeat and friendly, and no, it’s not fake. I like being friendly. I like being nice. I love talking to different people. And yes, I have friends. I have tons of friends from all walks of life, in a varied range of nationalities, ages, and worldviews. But just how many will I be comfortable enough to call in moments of trouble? Not much…
So yea, I have thought about it, maybe it’s just me…
However, these past 10 days in Taiwan, I’ve come to some sort of revelation. Sometimes, being in superficial friendships is helpful and beneficial to a person’s well-being. It allows a starting point for deeper relationships. It’s like swimming. You don’t dive in the deep-end, you first waddle in the shallow side. Once you find the confidence and trust in yourself and other people, you can slowly make your way to a deeper relationship. However, how the relationship goes, it’s not only up to the other person, but up to you. How far are you willing to go in this friendship? How far will you trust? Are you willing to be a good friend?
From my experience here, many of my new friends have gone out of their way to ensure that I have a good time. They’re so nice and helpful, even willing to spend their own money to take me and my group around different places in town. And for some reason, I don’t even feel like I’m obligated to do something in return. I don’t feel a hidden motive as to why they’re so nice, only that they are being nice. (And yes, if you must know, there are times that I can “sense” hidden motives from other people’s actions, like some sort of sensor, just like how I have a fairly good “gay-dar”. And no, I have nothing against gay people. Most, if not all, of my guy close friends are gay!)
But yes, I’ve gone out to dinner, taken trips, played games with people whose names I can’t necessarily remember, but it’s amazing how a little optimism and open-mindedness (all in my part) can go a long way. I’m willing to accept these shallow so-called friendships now, because I know that with a little more trust, and some hard work and a bit of sacrifice, all relationships can become meaningful friendships that would overcome time and distance.