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On friendship, loneliness and the need for validation

· 3 min read
Akshat Goel

We, humans, are social animals. Since pre-historic ages, your position in your group determined whether you’d get the mate of your choice, more food, and other people to do your bidding. A lot has changed since the prehistoric age. Our brains, however, haven’t come very far.

We still perceive groups as safe havens and turn to them for comfort, safety, and sometimes food. All feels well and good when we are surrounded by people we love and identify with. This forms the basis of validation. We feel happy and secure basking in the approval of our fellows. What can go wrong, you ask?

As it turns out, plenty. Getting our behavior approved by our peers can sometimes lead us to do things we normally wouldn’t which may harm us, including binge drinking and drug abuse. Till we are in a so-called ‘group’, we stay happy. But life happens and priorities and goals change continuously as we grow and move forward in time (not that moving backward is even an option) and sooner or later, we find ourselves at a crossroads between what is good for us and what falls in the interest of our group. Often it is situations like this which lead to the person getting alienated. This process can occur gradually or abruptly, depending on how crucial or stringent the decision you’ve made is.

The person starts feeling lonely with nobody for comfort and spirals down the abyss of loneliness. Things get worse if there is hostility on the part of their older group. They start questioning their self-worth and if it was their mistake that lead to them being cornered. Though it is highly subjective, one thing I do realize is that if the decision you took was one for personal growth and did not harm anyone, you weren’t wrong. You were just with the wrong kind of people, to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, they might have been your best friends for the better part of your lives, but it just so happened that you are no longer compatible with them.

It is very normal to talk infrequently or even give up talking altogether to a person you used to talk with twice a day. In fact, some of the best friends that you’ll carry for the life will be the ‘low maintenance’ ones, where you might talk after weeks but will be able to pick up right where you left off. They are the ones to whom you actually relate and the ones who will be by your side through thick and thin. Needless to say, you should reciprocate in their time of need.

Growth is a part of life. During this, we outgrow clothes, situations, and most importantly, people. So there is no need to mope. Rather one should aspire to find like-minded people and establish new friendships. Who knows, you might find better people in your life?