On Companionship

One thing I love about Shanghai is the guilt-free ability to take long showers.

My hair is still wet as I write here what I was thinking about in the shower.

I am someone who craves companionship and doesn’t fully embrace friendship. By companionship, I mean–I want someone to be my best friend. I want a significant other–regardless of whether there is a romantic side to things or not. I, perhaps, feel as though if I find a companion who I click with at every possible dimension, I will finally be a complete person. This is, of course, hogwash.

But it explains why I am so quick to let whither friendships that I can tell cannot be companionships. It explains why I am so easy to fall in love with people, despite knowing that due to our situation or their personality, we simply are not star-crossed lovers.

And in the shower, I realized that I am growing friendships here, but nowhere has it been more apparent to me that I lack a companion–and that that is okay.

Moreover, it is a useful challenge for myself to learn how to live more independently. To use various friendships and the support and engagement they can provide to enhance my experiences and stabilize my mental health.

For example, Don is the guy I talk to whenever I want someone to teach me something about soccer, kindness, or beer. I can talk to Kat whenever I want to feel inspired to follow my passions, travel the world, and to do good. I talk to Harry when I need to feel down-to-earth or when I need a jolly laugh. Whenever I feel like engaging in deep philosophical discussions, Hannah (who I have not formally introduced here; different Hannah from the one in the Oktoberfest picture) is my go-to. When I want to discuss coping with mental health problems, Hannah’s boyfriend Dan has been a valuable resource. Though none of these friendships are exclusive to those topics or experiences, I can be assured that if I feel like I need one of those experiences, I can talk to the designated person.

I used to think this type of friendship was exploitative or that I was pigeonholing my friends, but I’ve come to realize that just because an attribute of a friendship might be the foundation, it does not have to be the framing, interior design, and exterior painting.

I have also come to realize that it is genuinely unfair to expect one person to provide or be the source of all the support and interaction someone needs in life.

It is also useful to me to have a better understanding of what it is I need in my relationships with other people; I want a better glimpse of what I can provide myself, what I seek in my relationships with others, and why I find tiresome in others as well. In other words, I am collecting data for both how what I want, expect, and need in a companion and how I can be a better friend and eventual companion to others.

This genuinely feels like a mind-altering realization, but it is not yet complete. I hope you will challenge me on these thoughts. I eagerly encourage any feedback or comments to my thinking here. I need it, friends.

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