By Bill Kuhar
Valentine’s Day is coming and love is in the air. The only problem is some of us have lost our sense of smell. Are you dreading the thought of another holiday which reminds the single ladies (and fellas) that they don’t have a ring on it? Don’t worry, you are not alone. In a very recent study on the social lives of first year college students, results showed that in the first few weeks of school (the orientation period), the students reported high numbers of social ties with other schoolmates. Sadly as the study continued, researchers found that students were losing friends. Researchers also gleaned qualitative data on the loneliness of the students – which had increased from the orientation period (Hashim & Khodarahimi, 2012). So, if everyone had friends in the beginning of the year, why did they lose so many just a few months later?
People are a unique and complicated species. Other animals seem to have this unified “code” that they all follow (also known as the food chain). Dogs have never taken a stand against neutering them; sloths have never demanded equal transportation rights; likewise, cats have no problem with us posting frivolous photos of them dressed as cupcakes on the internet. Animals have no values, no sense of right and wrong. Humans are different. We have different values and beliefs that were passed down from our ancestors, which have changed throughout history. What that has boiled down to is a 7-billion-person ,strong, melting pot of complexity which can leave some of us in the dark.
This being said, most of the people you meet probably will not like you. This may sound harsh, but it all depends on how you look at it (keep in mind you might meet thousands of people in your lifetime).We all know that one guy who seems so sociable that can be friends with anyone; usually he is. He has the kind of personality that is easy to get along with. You may know him as “The Man.” Let’s call him “Wayne Brady.” He’s a people person. But here’s the catch: while excelling in human-relation skills, he is more than likely failing elsewhere. Everyone has their place in this world, his just happens to be with the people. You, on the other hand, may be very good at sports. Or, maybe you’re a master piano-playing, chainsaw-juggling, zombie-killing, student with a 4.0 GPA. It is all a matter of perspective. Just because Wayne Brady spent his childhood watching Dr. Phil and has now acquired a knack for people, does not mean he is any better a person than you are. In this sense, friends can be viewed as more of an accomplishment that takes skill and not so much of a basic human right.
Perhaps by this time in the school year you thought you would be going to all kinds of parties, meeting new people, and making a ton of friends. As it turns out, you spend most of your time in class, doing homework, and playing zombies with your roommate, Wayne Brady. This does not mean there is something wrong with you – you just haven’t found people who are like you. In case you haven’t noticed, the friends you already have are very similar to you. The most common characteristic that groups of friends share is often their sense of humor, hobbies, and beliefs. This combination is the key to making friends. It is not necessarily having “good” qualities that are the key to a healthy social life, but sharing the same qualities as those around you. Wayne Brady has more of a jack-of-all-trades personality that fits the combination of others.
Often, certain groups will form cliques. In this situation you may feel pressured to act based on what you think will make the group accept you. Ignore that feeling. Always be yourself. If that peer pressure is too strong, I would suggest finding new friends who accept you for who you are. What would be the point in having a group of friends who don’t even know who you really are?
If you are having difficulty meeting people like you, just remember to be yourself, be patient, and get involved. The more people you meet, the more chance you have of meeting someone who shares your sense of humor, interests, and beliefs. So on this Valentine’s Day, curl up in bed with a big box of chocolates and a few rounds of Where’s Waldo? And soon enough, you will find who you are looking for.