From April 18 to April 23, I was at Carnival, the one time a year people at my alma mater act like normal college students. Emotionally, I’m satisfied with my experience, but rationally, I can’t help but think that it could have been significantly better if I weren’t so independent and fearless.
I grew up the black sheep in my societally dictated flock of friends; they were your “stereotypical” Asians and I wanted to be an artist. I think this is where my desire for companionship came from — at the very least, it certainly was strongest then. Surrounded by people with different aspirations and passions in a hypercompetitive (e.g. lunch was an elective at our high school and if you wanted to rank, you elected not to take lunch) environment, I desperately craved someone with whom I could develop a close connection due to shared core beliefs.
My hunger for intimacy would ebb and flow in the following years until I parted ways with a friend who, although unintentionally, was poisonous to my well-being. At that time, I had already lived in California, a strange and unfamiliar place where I was all but completely isolated from the people I knew after graduating from school early, for nearly a year, during which I became accustomed to being alone. In conjunction with my moving back to New York, where I could easily access everything I wanted to fill my time with, the ending of our friendship elevated my familiarity with being alone to a comfortableness.
Since then, the overall quality of my life has improved drastically. The wistful thought that I should be spending Saturday night partying never occurs to me because I am capable of producing my own happiness. Still, I recognize that the potential gain from being with friends is far greater than from staying in with a book, even though the latter does bring me genuine joy. In that respect, I wish I were more fearful of missing out and relied more heavily on others to be fulfilled, as I believe it would motivate, if not forcefully drive, me to go out and seek those high risk, high reward experiences more often.
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