Relationships vary in degree. It’s a truth not many of us are willing to be too open about, but it’s a truth nonetheless. Some people we find easier to talk to than others, and nothing much can change that.

There are those who we’re supposed to know, so we keep up the superficial “hi”s and half-hearted waves for the sake of politeness. Sometimes when we feel disgruntled for one reason or another, we don’t even bother acknowledging their presence. Years from now, you probably won’t even remember their names nor the finer details of their faces.

Then there are the “acquaintances”. We’ve had a chat or two with them — the topic usually being something on the weather or that one upcoming test. They’re brief affairs — both parties are eager to terminate the painfully routine and shallow conversation. However, the possibility of a friendship forming and blossoming from this stage onwards always exists. The reverse is true as well — the pair might find that they dislike each other’s styles and personalities, making the prospect of a true friendship a distant possibility.

Next come the people we are genuinely comfortable in the presence of. For some, classmates, group mates and CCA mates fall under this category. Having spent at least a small part of your regular school life together with them, you’ve become familiar with their characters, idiosyncrasies and quirks. That’s not to say things will be all bright and dandy when you are thrown into a one-to-one situation — it usually turns awkward pretty fast, with both of you desperately trying to find any topic to talk about. Silence is feared like the plague, and any lapses in chit-chat are accompanied by a nervous shifting of the feet or an adjustment of the bum you rest on.

On the other hand, the sheer abundance of counter-examples possibly renders the argument baseless. With some people, conversation flows incredibly well, and when it’s over, you find that you have unknowingly enjoyed yourself to a great extent. “Clicking well” is what it’s commonly termed as. Certain individuals find it hard to “click” much with other people in general, while others less so.

And finally, our true friends. How sweet is their company, how reenergising their presence? Our troubles and tribulations, our innermost desires and innermost fears — who else do we turn to? Intellectual companion or fellow rebel, comrades in battle or gossiper-in-arms — they take up a myriad of roles to satisfy the debater, scholar, or enthusiast in every one of us.

When all we want is an attentive listening ear, when all we need is a comforting shoulder — we go to them.

Ultimately, if we were given a chance to rate everyone we knew on a scale of one to ten based on how “close” we were to each person, a rough pyramid will materialise in no time. We will find that at the end of it all, the people we will actually keep in contact with after graduation are a select few.

Faced with this harsh truth, one can choose to do one out of two things — continue mingling with those you are close to, or step out of your comfort zone to forge new bonds.

It’s not easy. With new people come new behaviours to adjust to, new tones of conversation to adapt to. You might find your judgemental side rearing its ugly head when your new friend starts to open up, and sometimes you might even get involuntarily offended by some of his innocuous habits — the way he always steps on your shoe might keep “triggering” you for example. Nevertheless, after making conscious efforts to talk more to the person and to get to know him or her better, you will find yourself a step ahead from where you were before — you now have a brand new perspective to draw from; a whole different way of looking at the world just a casual phone call away.

You will find that you have gained knowledge in areas you have never cared to explore before, and, through the influence of your newfound friend, might even get involved in it yourself.

The possibilities are endless.

At the end of the day, it’s really up to the individual. Vaulting over the hurdle of initial awkwardness to access a whole new mind, or choosing to keep having fun with the same old people, the mind stagnating to become less diverse and empathetic.

If you’re really just a combination of the people you are closest to, wouldn’t you much rather be composed of a plurality than a singularity?

—Anonymous

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