I find that one of the main tasks that we are challenged with in life, especially at younger ages, is to connect with others like us. However, in order to do this, we must decode other people’s communications to come to the conclusion that they are in fact like us. Unfortunately (or perhaps just evidently), my experiences have taught me that it’s much harder to find those like us than I previously thought. Anyone who has been in the dating world can attest to this. So, I’d like to share a story with you that was an early manifestation of this lesson for me.
I had visited my friend’s college for a weekend one fall. We were hanging out with a group of his friends including a few girls with whom I could see myself possibly dating. I fell into a one-on-one conversation with one of the nice coeds and began discussing one of my all-time favorite TV shows, “Boy Meets World.” When I got to the highly anticipated portion of the discussion where my fellow conversationalist would confirm that she lived and breathed my favorite show just as I did, devastation fell upon me. SHE DIDN’T LIKE “BOY MEETS WORLD!” This was traumatic for two reasons. One, I felt a small smog of loneliness engulf me when I found out that one of my largest interests were more limited to myself than I had previously thought. But two, I had been trying to impress this girl when it ended up having the opposite effect. Had it been a neutral clash of flirting between the genders, we could just agree to disagree and move on. But at the first sign of disinterest in the show, I started to get intensely passionate about defending it, as if she just didn’t understand which show I had been talking about and just needed to come to her senses. When I finally realized that this girl just wasn’t a fan of the show (thereby deeming herself evil by the way), I now felt compelled to defend and explain my weird excitement. It didn’t go over well. So, I blew it with this girl and just hoped that nobody else heard this mesh of self-realization and romantic failure.
As an adult, I look back on this story and find it silly that I got so observably passionate so quickly as many teenagers do. However, this story was brought to the forefront of my mind, not because of any similar embarrassment I had been feeling, but because of my recent amazement at the differences between human beings. Over the past number of years, I have been fascinated by this concept. The concept that you can be so different from those that live such similar lives to you. The concept that there are so many variations of human existence out there. On the flip side, this makes the experience of connecting with others all the more meaningful. I thought that others might identify with this struggle and perhaps find hope in it. Maybe if we articulate more of the feelings behind these stories, we will come to learn more about each other and ourselves.